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 Up to 19 Indonesian 'boys' in WA prisons

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BerichtOnderwerp: Up to 19 Indonesian 'boys' in WA prisons   Up to 19 Indonesian 'boys' in WA prisons Icon_minitimezo 13 nov 2011 - 4:48

Updated November 13, 2011 13:54:22

Advocates say the boys should be released into the community while authorities work out if they are children.

Advocates are calling for the release of up to 19 Indonesians detained in Western Australian prisons who they say could be children.

The teenagers, some of whom have been held for up to two years, were crew on boats suspected of illegally carrying asylum seekers into Australian waters.

Advocates for the boys, who are being held as suspected illegal immigrants, claim they should be released into the community while authorities determine whether or not they are children.

A 16-year-old former kitchen hand could be returned home to Indonesia within a fortnight after lawyers argued he was just 14 when arrested in November 2009.

District Court judge Philip Eaton has cast doubt on the X-ray evidence used by the Commonwealth to hold the boy as an adult in Perth's Hakea Prison for most of the time since his arrest.

Judge Eaton has referred the Commonwealth's application to the Perth Children's Court.

Ross Taylor, from the Perth-based Indonesia Institute lobby group, has been lobbying on behalf of the teenagers.

He says the teenagers should be dealt with more quickly through the courts.

"In the interim period ... they should be housed within the community, within the Indonesian community here in Australia and kept out of incarceration in adult prisons," he said.

Mr Taylor says the WA Government should step in to prevent such children being detained for years in prison.

"That will save the Government an immense amount of money, but also potentially save the mental welfare of very traumatised children who really don't understand what they're even doing in our prisons," he said.

(read in the ABC News)

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