Queensland youth justice proposals misguided and raise human rights concerns

The HRLC has made a submission to the Queensland Department of Justice on the ‘Safer Street Crime Action Plan – Youth Justice’ released by the Attorney General in March 2013. The Action Plan canvasses a range of reforms to the youth justice system in Queensland designed to make communities safer.

However, the HRLC is concerned that many of the measures being considered undermine this objective. Proposed reforms such as boot camps, criminalising bail breaches, making it easier to publish the names of young offenders, automatically transferring 18 year olds to adult prisons and allowing courts to access a person’s youth criminal history when sentencing them as an adult are unlikely to reduce crime by young people and may increase the risk of reoffending.

The HRLC submission outlines how a human rights framework supports and informs approaches to youth justice and reducing youth crime and incarceration, as well as contributes to the fulfilment of Australia’s international legal obligations. This submission:

  • explains the relevance and benefits of a human rights approach to youth justice reforms;
  • provides an overview of relevant human rights obligations;
  • outlines relevant recommendations made by various UN human rights bodies that relate to the reform of youth justice approaches in Queensland; and
  • considers, in particular, issues faced by young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their interaction with the criminal justice system.

The HRLC’s submission makes a range of practical recommendations to ensure that the proposals are consistent with human rights principles and will be effective at reducing crime and making communities safer.