Thursday, 11 May 2017

Human rights of children protected

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission today welcomed the Supreme Court’s finding that the Victorian Government acted unlawfully under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Certain Children v Minister for Families and Children & Others case. The Commission intervened in the case to ensure that the children’s human rights were considered and protected.

"It is an important day for the protection of children’s rights under the Charter of Human Rights in Victoria," Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said.

"The rights of children are protected by law and the Charter has proved to be a powerful mechanism to uphold these rights and require that children are treated as children in our justice system.



"The Court has found that holding children in a maximum security adult prison, subjecting them to long periods of isolation in adult cells, and failing to consider how this environment heightens their risk of mental health problems is not compatible with our human rights legislation."



The court found that the decision to gazette the Grevillea Unit at Barwon Prison as a youth justice facility and to transfer children there was unlawful and not compatible with the Charter of Human Rights under sections 17 and 22(1): the right to the protection of the best interests of the child and the right of all persons deprived of liberty to be treated humanely.



"Many of the children in our youth justice system have a history of abuse, neglect, mental health concerns or have an intellectual disability. The harmful effects of isolation and confinement in an adult prison are even more acute for such children who have particular vulnerabilities and associated complex needs.



"I encourage the Government to ensure our youth justice framework is underpinned by human rights principles and protects children's best interests."



An exemption granted under section 8B of the Control of Weapons Act 1990 to allow the use of oleoresin capsicum spray and extendable batons within Grevillea was also found to be incompatible with the Charter.

Media contact

Adam Pulford
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