UN Human Rights Council: Dujuan Hoosan on raising age of criminal responsibility
A 12-year-old boy from the Northern Territory has flown halfway across the world to address the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, calling on Australia to “stop putting kids in jail”.
Dujuan Hoosan is believed to be the youngest person to ever address the Human Rights Council, asking for the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility so young boys are not sent to prison.
“I came here to speak with you because the Australian government is not listening,” Dujuan told the council in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Adults never listen to kids like me but we have important things to say.”
Dujuan, from Arrernte and Garrwa country, spoke of how he felt like a failure in school and how at the age of 10, he was nearly sent to jail.
“I was always worried about being taken away from my family and I was nearly locked up in jail,” Dujuan said.
“But I was lucky because of my family because they know I am smart, they love me and they found a way to keep me safe.
“There are some things I want to see changed. I want my school to be run by Aboriginal people. I want adults to stop putting 10-year-old kids in jail.
“I want, in my future, to be able to learn strong culture and language. I hope you can make things better for us.”
Dujuan is the star of a new documentary called In My Blood It Runs, that will screen at the Human Rights Council.
The documentary, filmed when Dujuan was 10, runs through his struggles to properly engage with Australia’s education system and touches on him almost ending up at Darwin’s notorious Don Dale youth justice centre.
Close to 100 per cent of all youths detained in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.
At 10, Dujuan had started skipping school and quickly found himself in trouble with the police.
After an altercation with police, he almost ended up incarcerated — but his family intervened.
In all Australian states and territories, 10 years is the uniform age of criminal responsibility.
The Northern Territory child protection and detention royal commission in 2017 recommended that age be lifted to 12 years but the Territory Government is yet to do so despite accepting the final report recommendations.
The Human Rights Law Centre in Australia says the minimum should be 14 years.
Australian governments would have “a lot of explaining to do” to the UN in relation to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and sending those as young as 10 to prison or offshore asylum seeker camps, Shahleena Musk said, an indigenous Larrakia woman and lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.
“These harsh and out of date laws are forcing too many Aboriginal kids into the quicksand of the criminal legal system,” she told AAP.
Originally published as Boy slams Australia in UN address