Youth rights under attack in the NT

Issue 

Youth rights under attack in the NT

By Marina Cameron

Over the last 12 months the Country Liberal Party (CLP) government in the Northern Territory has taken or proposed a range of repressive and unreasonable actions in relation to perceived criminal activity, particularly by young people. The measures adopted clearly contravene international human rights conventions.

These include: the introduction of mandatory sentencing, which has resulted in the imprisonment of children in the maximum security section of Alice Springs prison; a proposal to review the right to silence; and proposed increases in police armoury and numbers.

In early September, the NT government announced a new proposal to impose a night-time curfew on young people through the use of an electronic bracelet worn around the ankle or wrist. It has not ruled out using the surveillance scheme on young people with no prior convictions.

These measures are direct attacks on the rights and liberties of young people. In response, Central Australian Youth Justice — a coalition of community workers, youth advocates, young people, lawyers, doctors and other concerned professionals — was launched on September 17.

CAYJ aims to challenge the continuing erosion of basic human rights, and to address the injustices that young people are facing within the criminal justice system. For information about its activities, contact CAYJ at PO Box 9094, Alice Springs, NT 0871; or telephone Kim Wright on (08) 8953 4200, John Shepard on (08) 8952 3377, or Louis Schetzer on 017 871 851.