A coalition of Indonesian rights groups announced a plan on Tuesday to report Australia to the UN for their detention of underage Indonesian fishermen, many of whom have been detained for a year or two.
The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said it was currently preparing to file the case with the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors 162 UN member states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ICCPR.
“According to an international human rights instrument and the Convention on the Rights of the Child that Australia and Indonesia have ratified, people categorized as children cannot be detained,” Ali Akbar, the program manager with the HRWG, said on Tuesday.
He added that some 50 underage Indonesian fishermen were currently detained in a number of Australian jails due to their alleged involvement in people smuggling activities.
“Freeing these underage fishermen is very urgent and important at the moment, considering that they’ve been detained for one year or two before undergoing court processes,” HRWG deputy director Choirul Anam said.
Lisa Hiariej, an Australia-based Indonesian lawyer, said many of the children detained were clueless as to what they had done, and that they were only used by people smugglers to support their activities.
“They did the job because of financial difficulties and because they’re blind about legal issues. They know nothing about people smuggling; they only work as cooks or do the laundry on board the boats,” Lisa said.
Ali said the HRWG was working on the plan to report the issue to the UN with an Australian rights group, but he did not identify the organization.