NEWS UPDATE: SACOSS is very disturbed by the fact that the United Nations’ Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has had to cut short its visit to Australia because it was blocked while carrying out its mandate under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), that Australia has signed up to.
This is of particular concern given our ongoing advocay to raise the age of criminal responsibility to a minimum of 14 years of age. Currently in South Australia and other parts of Australia children as young as ten can be arrested, charged with an offence, put before a court and locked away in prison cells.
The campaign to keep children out of detention and to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years has also focused on checking and ensuring that children who are detained are treated appropriately and kept safe.
So what has happened with the UN Sub-Committee is of real concern.
The purpose of OPCAT is to protect the human rights of people detained in places, including prisons, juvenile detention centres, immigration detention centres, hospitals, mental health facilities, aged care facilities and facilities for people with disability.
Governments that are committed to the protection and promotion of international human rights standards in places of detention should have nothing to fear from the granting of SPT access to all places of detention, including juvenile detention centres where children as young as ten years of age are detained.
The oppositional response to the SPT means that Australia has now joined the ranks of Rwanda, Ukraine and Azerbaijan in not co-operating with the work of this UN body.
We support the Joint Statement of Concern Regarding the Suspension of UN Subcommittee on Torture Visit to Australia, as endorsed by Change the Record the Human Rights Law Centre and a number of or organisations across Australia.
Read more here and you can find the joint statement from a range of organisations here.