Protest: Kids should not be in detention

Darwin detention centre.

A dozen protesters gathered outside Darwin Magistrates Court on March 8 to call for an end to the detention of asylum seeker children.

The protest was held outside the trial of six teenage asylum seekers, who faced charges with various offences resulting from a scuffle in Darwin immigration detention centre in February.

Richard Davis from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network told ABC Darwin that the youths should not have been charged.

He said: “As I understand it, it's alleged there were fights that broke out, but I would imagine that if you're kept in confinement under very strict conditions in an environment that is totally alien to you, without even the ability to communicate in another language, it would be very hard not to become frustrated and angry.

“And perhaps people's anger and frustration got a bit out of hand. But I mean the answer is an obvious one: don't put them in that situation in the first place.”

Protester Vickey Riley said: "We're trying to uphold the decision that Prime Minister [Julia] Gillard presented, which was that all children would be released from detention.

"We believe that's not the case, and in fact with the recent announcement of an increase of 400 beds at The [Darwin airport] Lodge, that obviously is not going to be the case."

The presiding judge took the unusual step of closing the court to all witnesses. Lawyers representing the teenagers condemned the decision.