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Teens to sue over detentions

Placed in adult Australian jails despite insisting they were minors

Apong Herlina of the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection Apong Herlina of the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection
  • Albertus V Rehi, Kupang, and Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • February 13, 2013
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Twenty-three Indonesians are to sue the Australian government for jailing them in adult prisons on people smuggling charges, despite the fact they were minors, their lawyer said Wednesday.

Lisa Hiariej, an Indonesian lawyer working at a Sydney law firm, told ucanews.com that the Australian government sent the teenagers aged 14-16 at the time of their detention to adult prisons in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin between 2008 and 2011.

“They said they were under 18, but wrist X-ray tests determined they were over 18 which is why they were sent to adult prisons,” she said.

Wrist X-rays have been used by the Australian federal police to determine the age of children since the 1950’s. However doubts have been raised over this test.

The practice is unethical and inaccurate, Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, Professor Emeritus of Child Health at University College London, an expert in the field, told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011.

Hiariej maintains there is enough valid evidence that proves they were minors at the time of their arrests.

“Their birth certificates and school reports are strong enough,” she said.

The teenagers are from East Nusa Tenggara and West Java. They were arrested while working as crew members on boats and charged with human trafficking.

Hiariej is working with the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI), after filing a civil suit in an Australian court.

Apong Herlina from KPAI said the suit is necessary “to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.”

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