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New ministers should press authorities to treat Indonesian children as minors

Australia's new attorney general and home affairs minister should press their respective departments to treat all Indonesian children as minors after the collapse of yet another prosecution, the Greens said today.

"The Commonwealth withdrew charges against another Indonesian who was crew on an asylum seeker boat after his lawyers confirmed his age," Greens' immigration and children spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today from Melbourne.

"The anguish which ended today in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court has been experienced by at least 38 Indonesians who have spent time in adult prisons until charges were dropped or they were confirmed as being children. There are about another 40 Indonesians we are aware of who remain detained in similar circumstances.

"It's incumbent on the Australian government that they stop ignoring the pleas from people who say they are minors. The onus should be on authorities to prove that people in their custody are adults, not leave it to a defendant's legal team to visit Indonesian villages to get sworn affidavits.

"The Greens have a bill before parliament instructing what Australian authorities need to do with minors in their care. It rules out discredited wrist x-rays to determine a person's age. Australia should stop using technology condemned by medical groups in Australia and internationally.

"Our bill also sets time limits for how long a person can be in custody before they are charged, and for the age determination process to be finished.

"Australia must stop jailing children alongside adult criminals, because we were rightly outraged when it happened to an Australian holidaying in Bali. No child should be put in an adult prison under any circumstances."


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