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Greens’ bill to keep Indonesian children out of Australian adult prisons

The Greens will in the Senate this week introduce a bill which seeks to stop any more Indonesian children accused of people smuggling from being detained in Australian adult prisons.

"At least 34 Indonesian children have been freed by Australian courts and returned home after months of unnecessary anguish and detention," Greens' immigration and children spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"The Prime Minister has not taken seriously legitimate questions about using x-rays in the age determination process. The Indonesian government has raised its serious concerns and wants the process improved.

"Wrist and dental x-rays to determine a person's age have been discredited by medical professional groups in Australia and internationally. This bill will rule out their use by the Australian Federal Police. The burden should be on Australian authorities to treat children as children until their ages are proven otherwise.

"Last week Amnesty International told the immigration detention inquiry the mental and physical health of Indonesian children was being damaged because the children were being kept in adult prisons. No child, regardless of their nationality, should be kept in an adult prison anywhere."

The Greens' Crimes Act Amendment (Fairness for Minors) Bill 2011 will set a 14-day limit for charging a person with being a people smuggler when they say they are a minor. The age determination process must be concluded within 30 days.

"The Gillard government must do more and act quickly," Sen. Hanson-Young said.

"The Greens' bill gives a process that is fair, just and protects those who are found to be children."

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