Reports in today’s media suggest an Indonesian male, jailed in Western Australia after conviction for people smuggling offences, was 13 when arrested and 14 when sentenced to jail.
The report in today’s Sydney Morning Herald refers to documents obtained by the Australian Federal Police from the Indonesian authorities indicating the male was 13 at the time of arrest. it also suggests the AFP and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution were not satisfied the information contained in the document was accurate, and that the information was therefore not put before the court.
This report again focus attention on the mandatory sentences that apply to people smuggling offences. Even if the court was of the view that the male was 18 at sentence, his youth would generally have been a powerful reason to depart from the normal ratio between the total sentence and the non-parole period. It may also have been a reason to significantly reduce the period spent in custody below the three year period. Here, the sentencing Judge was left with little discretion to take this mitigating factor into account.
The Sydney Morning Herald article can be viewed here. http://www.smh.com.au/national/he-was-13-years-old-when-australia-locked-him-in-an-adult-prison-for-people-smuggling-20120519-1yxfc.html