Kids locked in jail cell isolation 24/7

Nearly 130 children  – 55 of them Indigenous – are locked in cells in isolation 24/7 in Brisbane’s youth jail. The Covid-19 emergency has highlighted the problems – including costs – of locking up children, sometimes as young as 10 because the age of criminal responsibility is so low. Most locked-up children need professional help and special education, not to be in jail.

AGs are cowards not to lift age of responsibility    

Australia’s Attorney-General showed cowardice in not lifting the age of criminal responsibillity from 10 10 at least 14, CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman says. A national justice department group has been working on the issue for years: it strongly recommended the common national age goes up, now. It’s time for one or mroe AGs to show the courage of their convictions, not the least because it will help keep Aboriginal kids as young as 10 from dominating juvenile jailings in Australia.

‘Age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 16′

Children’s brains have not formed until well into their teenage years, so they are not mature enough to acquire the intent for full criminal responsibility under the age 16, CLA argues in its submission to the national working group preparing advice for all Attorneys-General on the age of criminal responsibility. CLA also believes that no child under 16 should be detained in a jail-like setting, and mandatory sentencing should be abandoned by all jurisdictions for children under 16.

Religious Freedom Bills would produce ‘perverse outcome’

The governments’ proposed Religious Freedom laws would legitimise discrimination in the name of religion, undermine states’ rights, discriminate against non-believers, and generally make employment provisions in the health and education sector a minefield for anyone other than highly-qualified lawyers. As well, the laws would further entrench tax breaks for organisations that don’t provide the services to earn them. The government can do much better: a fundamental redrafting of the proposals is needed, CLA says.

CLA warning on mass surveillance highlighted

In a proposed new law before parliament, the government wants the right to conduct broad-spectrum surveillance, and hold photos on every Australian, without necessary safeguards. It claims the technology doesn’t exist for mass surveillance in real time, but The Guardian report’s CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman when she points out that a minor development could introduce the option of ‘1984’ and ‘Big Brother’ high-tech to Australia in just a few months, which police and security authorities would find ‘cheap and enticing’…and irresistible.