At its annual Council of Attorneys-General (CAG) meeting last week, Australian lawmakers extended a review into raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14. Now, Amnesty International Australia is calling on the nation’s police to effect a moratorium on arresting and detaining children younger than 14 until the recommendations of the working group are handed down.
“Reviews take a long time, and children are being trapped in the quicksand of youth justice system and have no time left to wait. While this review continues, children under 14 should not be arrested and detained,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advisor Rodney Dillon said.
“The will for reform of this archaic legislation is there, but as consultation takes place on implementation plans, children will continue to be arrested and imprisoned. There are already 603 children between 10-13 years in prisons around the country, we can’t let this number grow when we know the damage it causes.
“Evidence shows that imprisonment of young children increases recidivism and removing children from society causes long-term harm, stripping them of future opportunities. Children deserve to be with their family, friends, in school and in community-led programs that lead to better outcomes and a brighter future.”
Amnesty International Australia has written to Police Commissioners around Australia to request a moratorium on detaining children younger than 14.