Indonesian court orders Australia into mediation over children held in adult jails, detention centres

Indonesian court orders Australia into mediation over children held in adult jails, detention centres

Indonesian court orders Australia into mediation over children held in adult jails, detention centres

Updated 20 September 2017, 8:35 AEST

The Central Jakarta District Court orders the Australian Government enter mediation in a case involving 115 Indonesians who allege they were under the age of 18 when they were convicted of people smuggling and jailed in adult prisons across Australia.

The Central Jakarta District Court has ordered the Australian Government enter mediation in a case involving 115 Indonesians who allege they were juveniles when they were detained in adult jails and detention centres in Australia.

Lawyer Lisa Hiariej is seeking $103 million in damages from the Australian Government for the group who she alleges were under the age of 18 when they were convicted of people smuggling and detained as adults.

It is alleged among the group, 31 were jailed in adult prisons in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane and 84 were held in detentions centres when they should have been sent home.

"I hope the Australian Government will consider that these children are poor and unlucky," Ms Hiariej told the ABC outside the court.

"Through the mediation, the Australian Government could show its heart to help these kids."

The court began hearing the case in February, but on Tuesday the Australian Government sent legal representation for the first time.

The Government had failed to appear on two previous occasions and argued that as a sovereign state Australia is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

"This mediation is an obligation as part of the court proceedings in Indonesian," the Australian Government's lawyer, Togi Pangaribuan, said.

"But it does not mean that we will not challenge the jurisdiction of this central Jakarta Court."

Lisa Hiariej argued the Indonesian boys were also victims of the people smugglers and deserve compensation for the time they spent behind bars with adult criminals.

If successful, the money would be shared among the group, depending on time served. But even if shared equally they'd only receive around $900 each.

"The money will give them the chance to get an adequate education, they could finish their high school and be able to continue to college," Ms Hiariej said.

At the time of their jailing, the Australian Federal Police was using a controversial, and now discredited, wrist x-ray to determine age.

In July, a Western Australian court ruled Indonesian Ali Jasmin was a victim of a miscarriage of justice after he was tried and then jailed as an adult when he was just 13.

He spent almost three years in Perth maximum security Hakea Prison. He has not received any compensation.

If mediation fails, a panel of three judges ruled the case would return to their court at which point they will determine if they have the required jurisdiction.

"After the mediation if it fails or succeeds you remain obliged to attend the court hearing, you should not fail the mediation and the leave the court," Judge Ibnu Basuki Widodo warned the Australian lawyers during the hearing.

Lisa Hiariej has been working on the case for the past five years.

The parties have one month for mediation which can be extended to 40 days if necessary.