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Greens demand independent inquiry into detained Indonesian children

All Indonesians who are detained in Australian adult jails should be immediately released while they undergo processes to determine their ages, the Australian Greens said today.

"The Gillard government should urgently commission an independent inquiry into why these Indonesian children are being imprisoned in Australian jails," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"This unacceptable policy breaches Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and also breaches appropriate standards under our domestic laws.

"How would Australian parents react if it were their children being detained alongside serious adult offenders in an Indonesian prison?

"AFP and Immigration Department officials should also immediately cease relying on discredited and outdated wrist x-ray methods to determine the ages of Indonesians accused of people smuggling offences who say they are minors.

"Many of these children are poor and illiterate and are tricked into working on asylum seeker boats by the promise of relatively well-paid fishing jobs. They are then detained for sometimes years in Australian adult prisons without charge. Police and prosecutors must act quickly to investigate their ages.

"If Australia had a Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People, they would act as the legal guardian of these children. I have a bill before parliament to achieve this but it needs the support of both major parties.

"Until then, the presumption should be on the government to treat these Indonesian children as children, until the authorities can prove that they are adults."

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