Youth rights attacked in NSW law
By Nick Soudakoff
SYDNEY — The state government's juvenile crime legislation is facing intense opposition from youth and welfare groups. The legislation allows police to detain people under 16 on suspicion, on a limited basis.
The new laws are to be piloted in Gosford and Orange from March 13. Many welfare groups are refusing to cooperate with their implementation.
Police have been given the power to take young people to either their parents' home or a prescribed place. In doing so they may use a "reasonable" amount of force.
The NSW Council of Social Services wrote to Premier John Fahey shortly after the legislation was passed in December, warning that 11 church and welfare groups — who maintain shelters and other institutions that young people would be taken t — would be boycotting the new law.
Mike Karadjis, a youth worker in Fairfield and Democratic Socialist candidate for Fairfield in the state elections, told Green Left Weekly that the law "is a clear attack on the democratic rights of young people. These laws give the cops more discretionary power, which only invites abuses of people's rights.
"The people most affected will be from the migrant and Aboriginal communities and from areas where the social crisis is acute."
Karadjis believes the motive for the legislation is partly the need for an election gimmick. Labor and Liberals have tried to outdo each other on the issue of youth crime.
"These laws are an attempt to hide the real problem, the massive social crisis that both Labor and Liberal have caused through their own policies. Issues like youth unemployment, overcrowding of schools and a general lack of youth facilities in the west are not being addressed."