The plight of around 50 Indonesian boys held in Australian adult prisons awaiting criminal prosecution for people smuggling will be outlined at a free public forum at the University of New South Wales Law School next week (Monday 17 October).
The boys are mostly alleged crew members on boats carrying asylum seekers from Indonesia. Many are being held in the Australian adult prison system.
The criminal defence lawyer, Ms Edwina Lloyd, and campaigner on behalf of the children, Mr Gerry Georgatos, from the Human Rights Alliance, will discuss their experiences advocating on behalf of the boys and others charged with people smuggling offences.
"Locking up these impoverished Indonesian boys in Australian prisons doesn't just raise moral issues - it undermines Australia's obligations under international law," said Bassina Farbenblum, Director of UNSW Law School's Migrant and Refugee Rights Project and its Human Rights Clinic.
"And to make matters worse, if the boys are convicted as adults under the 2010 people smuggling laws, they face mandatory multiple-year jail terms that judges aren't able to reduce no matter how limited the individual's involvement was."
The individuals accused of people smuggling offences are mostly from poor Indonesian fishing villages, and speak little if any English. "Many are cooks or deckhands who had no involvement in organising the voyage," said Ms Farbenblum
Amy Rogers, a UNSW Law student intern in the Migrant and Refugee Rights Project said: "A number of boys are mistakenly being imprisoned and prosecuted as adults because the government is still relying on a widely discredited wrist x-ray technique to determine their age."
The forum is organised by the Diplomacy Training Program and UNSW's Migrant and Refugee Rights Project, in partnership with Indonesian Solidarity Network.
What: Prosecutions under Australia's Anti-People Smuggling Laws - the Real Stories
When: 1-2pm, Monday 17th October
Where: GO4 Lecture Theatre, Law Faculty Building, UNSW Kensington campus
Media are welcome to attend.
Media contact: Steve Offner, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 8107