Australia repeatedly flouted international law by locking up Indonesian teenagers in adult jails
Australia has repeatedly flouted international law by locking up dozens of Indonesian teenagers in adult jails after they arrived as crew members on boats carrying asylum-seekers, according to the country’s Human Rights Commission.
In a damning report released by the commission yesterday, it said police, prosecutors and government officials used a wrist X-ray test to determine the boys’ ages even after the method was widely discredited. As a result, 15 minors were convicted of people-smuggling and incarcerated in adult prisons for nearly three years, while another 48 facing charges were locked up for more than a year.
“If that had happened to Australian children, I think the Australian public would be outraged,” the president of the human rights watchdog, Catherine Branson, QC, said yesterday.
The report’s publication coincided with news that an Australian lawyer, Peter O’Brien, is preparing to seek compensation for two Indonesian teenagers who were locked up in a Sydney jail for six months. The pair, who were 15 and 17 when they were arrested, have alleged that they were sexually abused and forced to take drugs by adult prisoners.
Many of the boys jailed in Australia between 2008 and 2011 were recruited by people-smugglers from impoverished fishing villages in Indonesia. Poorly educated and in some cases illiterate, they had no idea where the boats were heading and no inkling they were doing anything illegal.
The issue has been a long-running source of friction between Australia and Indonesia. The Australian government – which released 15 minors from prison last month after reviewing their cases – said yesterday that it now assesses age much more rigorously. About 50 other boys claiming to be under 18 have had charges dropped against them.
However, Ms Branson said the changes had come too late for children whose rights had been systematically trampled, and she urged the government to apologise. One reason for what had happened, she said, was “political and public pressure” on officials to be seen to be cracking down on people-smuggling.
Australian policy is to send home to Indonesia crew members who are obviously minors, rather than prosecuting them. However, in less clear-cut cases where young men insist they are under-age, the government has been “reluctant” to consider documentary evidence, according to the report. Instead, it relied on the X-ray test, which supposedly determines skeletal maturity. The test has been rejected by UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, and is banned in Britain.
The commission found that the government had repeatedly breached international conventions on civil, political and children’s rights. Mr O’Brien said that what his two clients had endured in prison was something no child should experience in a civilised country.
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
The ten coldest places on Earth
Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Nelson Mandela memorial: Cheers, jeers and a masterclass from Barack Obama that stole the show
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
- 4 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£50000 - £65000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading mark...
£60000 - £85000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading asse...
£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Junior/Grad C# .NET Wi...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (VB6,.NET, SQL, Winforms) Wokin...