In response to a motion passed by the Alice Springs Town Council, Amnesty International Australia wrote to the Northern Territory Police Minister, Nicole Manison, asking her to intervene and ensure that a curfew did not go ahead.
Amnesty International Australia argued that a curfew on children and young people will only entrench cycles of disadvantage, poverty, poor health and racism. Enforcing such a curfew will see police station cells and detention centres overflow. Furthermore, it will affect the most marginalised children in Alice Springs who need support, and only get more children trapped in the quicksand of the youth justice system.
A curfew on children and young people may also breach international law. The UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency notes that curfews ‘stigmatise, victimise and criminalise young people’. The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN World Report on Violence Against Children has called for the abolition of status offences – such as youth curfews – to achieve equal treatment for children and adults.
In an important move by the government, Minister Manison wrote to Amnesty International Australia and said:
There are no proposed legislation changes relating to curfews for young people as there is no evidence that this works.
To improve community safety, we have committed record funding into areas of police, child protection, health, housing and education services, staffing and resources.Nicole Manison, Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services
Amnesty International Australia welcomes the Minister’s support against youth curfews.
Whilst funding across various social services is a key part to keep children and young people out of prison, Amnesty International Australia calls on the Northern Territory government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least fourteen, as soon as possible.