The Australian Greens today announce they’ve successfully created a parliamentary inquiry to examine whether Indonesian children are being held in facilities such as prisons and remand centres where adults are also kept.
“There are at least two dozen Indonesians who may be children who have been convicted and jailed alongside Australian adult offenders,” Greens’ immigration and youth affairs spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.
“The Attorney-General has announced these 24 cases will be reviewed, and while we welcome that, parliament must find out how these convictions happened and what breakdowns in procedures occurred.
“Questions will include why was action was not taken to ensure minors avoided being convicted and jailed in adult prisons when Australian officials knew, or in some cases such as Ali Jasmin, had evidence like a birth certificate.
“At least five Indonesian children have been detained without charge for more than 300 days and then were freed by courts which determined they were minors.
“We need to get to the bottom of how Australian authorities can be getting this so wrong for so long and damaging children who should never be in adult prisons.
“This inquiry will also examine why there have been failures to adhere to Australian government policy that Indonesian minors who crew asylum boats are not charged but sent home.
“What has happened to Indonesian children has been a great injustice brought on by a federal government that wants to look tough on people smugglers.
“We’ve seen time and again children and other impoverished Indonesian fishermen being treated as pawns while the smuggling syndicate leaders get away.
“What has happened to Ali Jasmin and other Indonesians would be unacceptable to Australian children and is equally unacceptable to Indonesian children.
“This inquiry will examine if, how and why these breakdowns in process may have happened and what should be done to remedy the injustice and make sure these mistakes are not repeated.”
Full wording of Sen. Hanson-Young’s motion which passed today.
I give notice I shall move on 10 May 2012 that the following matter be referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 28 June 2012:
a) Whether any Indonesian minors are currently being held in Australian prison, remand centres or detention centres where adults are also held, and the appropriateness of that detention;
b) What information did the Australian authorities possess or have knowledge of when it was determined that a suspect or convicted person was a minor;
c) Whether there have been cases where information that a person is a minor was not put before the court;
d) What checks and procedures exist to ensure that evidence was given to an Australian authority or Department about the age of a defendant/suspect is followed up appropriately;
e) The relevant procedures across agencies relating to cases where there is a suggestions that a minor has been imprisoned in an adult facility;
f) Options for reparation and repatriation for any minor who has been charged (contrary to current government policy) and convicted.
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