Senate Committee recommends changes to detention of Indonesian minors

A Senate Committee report into the detention of Indonesian minors in Australia acknowledges systemic issues with Australia’s processes for detaining and prosecuting accused people smugglers, which have resulted in improper detention of Indonesian minors. The Committee found that many Indonesian nationals, who are likely to have been children, were detained or imprisoned for inappropriate periods in Australia between 2008 and 2012. The Committee noted the difficulties associated with accurately determining age and made a number of general recommendations including:

  • the removal of wrist x-rays as a prescribed procedure for the determination of age; and
  • placing the burden of proof on the prosecution to establish that the accused was an adult at the time of the relevant offence.

The Committee Chair went on to make further recommendations which align with recommendations made by the HRLC on the issue of detention of Indonesian minors. The Chair noted the need for legal advice to be provided immediately to persons suspected of people smuggling who claim to be minors, and advised that such individuals should only be detained for a maximum of 14 days before being charged or released from detention. The Chair also recommended community detention as opposed to detention at an immigration facility and that Criminal Justice Stay Certificates be subject to periodic judicial review.


Emily Brott is on secondment to the HRLC from King & Wood Mallesons.