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Greens call on government to fix legal black hole for impoverished Indonesians

The Australian Greens are the only political party trying to change unjust laws which are keeping Indonesian children and adults stuck in prison without charge for longer than people accused of serious offences.

"While the old parties squabble about leadership challenges, the Greens are drafting bills and having them referred to inquiries to address the legal and procedural black holes," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"It is appalling that Indonesians are detained without charge for an average 161 days and have introduced legislation to amend the relevant laws to stop this.

"The Greens have a bill before a Senate inquiry to stop children from being detained in adult prisons, to establish criteria for determining their ages and set deadlines by which they have to be charged with a people smuggling offence.

"We have another bill, also being examined by a Senate inquiry, to abolish mandatory sentences for people who have been tricked into crewing asylum seeker boats by the people smuggling syndicates. The legal community is rightly concerned at the severity of the five-year mandatory jail terms which are longer than some people get for violent and sexual crimes. The Greens' bill would restore sentencing discretion to the courts, so judges can take into account mitigating circumstances.

"The government wants to look tough, but they are failing to catch the kingpins and are instead locking up the small fry at great taxpayer expense, hoping no one would notice the difference.

"We urge the government and Attorney General Roxon to take a serious look at our bills as a way to remedy the injustices."


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