A group of 50 Indonesian minors who crewed asylum seeker boats are seeking compensation from the Australian government claiming that they were wrongfully imprisoned in adult detention facilities. Some of the minors were detained in maximum security facilities for over 2 years with their human rights neglected.
The Australian government has previously faced similar compensation claims for their handling of cases involving minors in people smuggling operations. This includes one of our very own cases: SU v Commonwealth of Australia.
Unreliable X-ray wrist testing used to determine age of clients
In this case, we represented two young Indonesian boys who were asked to handle people smuggling boats. After the boats were intercepted, the boys were questioned on their age where they stated that they were 14 and 16. However, the federal government did not believe their claims, and instead used x-ray wrist testing to determine that they were over 18. X-ray testing is a method that was historically used to examine the bone development of the person’s wrist to determine their age. This method has shown to be extremely unreliable because the differences in environment that a child is exposed to affects the rate of their bone development.
As a result of the x-ray testing, our clients were detained in a maximum security prison for a period of 8 months prior to their age determination hearing. We represented the boys in their claim against the federal Government arguing that they had been unlawfully imprisoned as adults. The claim was successful with the boys being awarded compensation for the period in which they had been unlawfully detained.
Federal Government needs to make changes to how they handle people smuggling operations
Given that these sorts of cases keep arising, the Government needs to take responsibility and accept that it is ridiculous to continue relying on methods such as x-ray testing to verify ages of minors. These minors often cannot speak English and are unaware of what is required of them when they agree to handle people smuggling boats. The interests of the child need to be prioritised rather than detaining them unnecessarily in maximum security facilities. Australia’s human rights record is already strongly criticised which is an indication that changes need to be made in the Government’s approach to handling minors involved in people smuggling operations.
If you have been unlawfully imprisoned and want to make a claim against an authority call us on (02) 9261 4281 to book a free initial consultation.