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Protect Indonesian children by banning x-ray use

The Home Affairs Minister should have told the Indonesian government that Australian authorities were immediately scrapping wrist x-rays to determine the ages of asylum seeker boat crew, the Greens said today.

"The Greens have a bill before parliament to change the laws so children are not detained and wrist x-rays cannot be used," Greens' immigration and children spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"Why didn't the minister say his government would change the law? The Greens' Crimes Act Amendment (Fairness for Minors) Bill before parliament sets out clear instructions in law for what Australian authorities must do with minors they have detained.

"The use of x-rays to determine age has been discredited by Australian and international medical experts and has resulted in minors and children being unlawfully jailed.

"The sharing of information between the Australian and Indonesian governments has to be hastened because there are at least 40 Indonesians who claim to be minors still in Australian prisons.

"At least 37 Indonesians have been returned home after being freed by Australian courts which determined they were children or prosecutors dropped charges against them.

"The most recent is in Perth, where an Indonesian boy spent two years in Australian custody - 15 months alongside adult criminals - until Commonwealth prosecutors dropped all charges yesterday, two days before it came to court.

"The Greens' bill puts the onus on Australian authorities to treat as a child a person who claims to be one, until the authorities can prove otherwise.

"We understand how outraged Australians were when a boy from NSW was jailed alongside adults in Bali. That's why no child, regardless of their nationality, should be put in an adult prison. It breaches Australian law and our international obligations.

"The Greens have also expressed their concern about the numbers of children who have arrived on Christmas Island in recent weeks and urge authorities to ensure they are quickly moved out of detention, especially those who have special needs."


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