Dignity for People in Prison
The Human Rights Law Centre advocates for an end to cruel and inhuman treatment of people behind bars.
A landmark, new standard has been set in international human rights guidelines with the expert UN Child Rights Committee recommending laws be changed to ensure that children under the age of 16 years "may not legally be deprived of their liberty".
Press Conference: The family of Tanya Day will read a statement and take questions from the media at 3:45pm today in Melbourne.
Solitary confinement is an archaic way of treating people and is now known to inflict long term and irreversible harm. Today, in a damning report, the Victorian Ombudsman has called on the Andrews Government to prohibit in law the use of solitary confinement.
Newly obtained data shows that in one month, 403 strip searches were conducted on children at two youth prisons in NSW. Only one item – a ping pong ball – was found as a result of these strip searches.
The Queensland Government’s decision to move kids out of police watch houses “as soon as humanly possible” is welcomed, but the Human Rights Law Centre calls on the Government to publicly commit to a long-term solution so that no child is warehoused in a police watch house again.
People experiencing mental illness are being criminalised rather than supported in the community, the Human Rights Law Centre has said in a submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture announced they will visit Australia to shine a light on abuses in places of detention, including adult prisons, youth prisons, police lock-ups and immigration detention facilities.
Tonight’s Four Corners investigation, Inside the Watch House, raises serious questions about whether the Queensland Government is breaching its own laws by warehousing children in police cells designed for adults.
People in prison in Western Australia were subjected to close to 1 million strip searches over the past 5 years, a shocking report by the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services has found.
The Human Rights Law Centre will today provide a submission to a Northern Territory Parliamentary Committee supporting landmark reforms to youth justice laws, however arguing that the Government should follow through with its promise to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
Aboriginal and human rights organisations today welcomed the Australian Medical Association’s call for all states and territories to raise the age when children can be held criminally responsible to at least 14 years.
The second directions hearing in the coronial inquest into Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day’s death in police custody will commence today.
The Supreme Court today overturned the sentence of a 12 year old Aboriginal boy caught up by Western Australia’s draconian mandatory sentencing laws.
In response to tonight’s Four Corners episode, Criminalising women, legal and human rights organisations are calling on the Andrews Government to drastically cut the number of women being criminalised and imprisoned in Victoria.
Shocking stories of police brutality, misconduct and malicious prosecution revealed over the past 48 hours show the need for immediate action to hold Victoria police to account.
Lawyers, advocates and victims of police abuse are again calling on the Andrews Government to take action and introduce an independent body to investigate police misconduct, as horrific new cases of police brutality come to light.
Western Australia’s Independent Inspector of Custodial Services today released a damning report into the circumstances surrounding a young Aboriginal woman who gave birth alone in a prison cell.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data last week that shows governments across Australia are now forcing more than 3,600 women into prisons. This marks an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year - more than double the rate of men’s, which increased by four per cent.
Lawyers and advocates from across Victoria have welcomed the Andrews Government announcement of a Royal Commission into police misconduct, but say the Andrews Government should immediately establish an independent Police Corruption & Misconduct Division within IBAC.
The Australian Government should not be allowed to pick and choose what detention facilities can be scrutinised under the UN anti-torture treaty, the Human Rights Law Centre said in a submission to the Human Rights Commission.
The Andrews Government has pushed divisive anti-association laws through the lower house of Parliament today. The laws will give police excessive powers to issue ‘anti-association notices’, telling people – including children as young as 14 – who they can and can’t be friends with or spend time with.
Australian governments must put in place life-saving Custody Notification Services in every state and territory to address one of the most significant human rights issues in Australia – the preventable deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Human rights lawyers are calling on WA Corrective Services Minister, Francis Logan, to categorically prohibit solitary confinement for children, in the wake of a report by the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services into alleged ill-treatment at the notorious Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre.
This week marks the two year anniversary since the horrific images of child abuse in Don Dale youth prison were beamed across the nation, leading to the Northern Territory Royal Commission.
The Australian Government has been urged to improve its track record on women’s rights overnight by an expert UN Committee on women’s rights.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women made its criticism after a robust review earlier this month to assess Australia’s progress on ending discrimination against women.
The Victorian Government will today introduce chilling new laws to restrict the ability of Victorians to freely spend time together.
Australian governments should end the routine strip searching of women in prison the Human Rights Law Centre has told the UN Human Rights Council in a statement delivered in Geneva overnight.
The Northern Territory Supreme Court has today held that the now repealed Alcohol Protection Order (APO) regime was valid and not in breach of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act.
Children in the Northern Territory will be better protected from Don Dale-like abuse behind bars with the Gunner Government today passing landmark laws that will prohibit harm to children. The laws will solidify key recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
After a week of intense negotiations, the Western Australian Government has avoided urgent Supreme Court action by allowing a newborn Aboriginal baby to remain with her mother.
We need to rethink a system that is funnelling people into harmful prisons as the default response, writes Shahleena Musk.
How we treat people in prison matters not just because most will be released back into the community, but because we are all diminished the moment we start picking and choosing who is deserving of dignity, writes Ruth Barson.
How children could be left to languish in solitary confinement; how the abuses in Don Dale went unchecked for so long before journalists and advocates exposed a system rotten to its core.This Friday Australia will be provided with answers.
Youth justice in Victoria is at the crossroads. The Supreme Court has ruled, yet again, that it was unlawful for the Victorian government to lock up children at the state’s most notorious maximum security adult jail.
Mandatory sentences are not the right tool for reducing crime, writes our Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, following the misguided policy announcement from Victoria's Opposition Leader.
Just a day after Victoria’s highest court confirmed the government acted unlawfully in detaining children at the Barwon adult prison, the Minister has tried yet again to keep them there. The government is spending extraordinary resources defending the indefensible – jailing children in the state’s most notorious adult prison.
There is indeed a crisis in Victoria's youth justice system. It is not one, as the Government suggests, of available beds or suitable facilities – these things are imminently fixable with a dose of political will. Rather, the crisis is one of a myopic outlook and a merciless attitude: a willingness to countenance cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Brutal images of Aboriginal women and children being mistreated in custody are a defining feature of 2016. From Dylan Voller and the young detainees of Don Dale to Ms Dhu, Australians have been forced to reckon with the cruel reality of Australia's over-imprisonment crisis.
I've just returned from Barwon maximum security adult prison. I found myself squatting on the floor to talk to one of our clients – a 16-year-old child – through the trapdoor to his cell. The tight steel opening so small I could only see his anxious eyes. He is being held in solitary confinement; pacing his cell, uncertain when he will be let out. He hasn't seen the sky since Thursday.
We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the riot at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre. We don’t need lazy, kneejerk populist responses, like transferring kids to adults jails, which are designed to sound tough on crime and which in fact will only make things worse.
In his words
Throughout the case, we worked to make sure the voices of our clients were heard The Herald Sun published the following story about our Supreme Court challenge against the Victorian Government to stop the use of Barwon prison to detain children. It includes a letter written by one of our clients. Click here to read the full letter.