Shocked Lawyers say Unredacted Youth Justice Report Proves Urgent Need for Queensland Human Rights Act

June 29, 2017

Media release For release on Thursday 29 June 2017

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the Attorney-General’s re-release of the unredacted final Report of the Queensland Youth Justice Review. ALHR says the report clearly reinforces the urgent need for the Palaszczuk government to stay good on its promise to pass a Queensland Human Rights Act as soon as possible.

ALHR President Benedict Coyne said, “Premier Palaszczuk promised Queensland a Human Rights Act last October and we still have seen no movement. The unredacted portions of the Youth Justice Report reveal incredibly disturbing human rights abuses occurring against the most vulnerable people in our society, our children. The new revelations show exactly why Queenslanders need immediate legal protection of their basic human rights. The conduct revealed is unacceptable and in breach of Australia’s international legal obligations. The Queensland government must do all it can to ensure that such systemic abuses are completely weeded out and immediate steps must be taken to ensure that Queensland’s youth justice system complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other important international standards”

“Australia is the only western liberal democracy and common law legal system without a Human Rights Act. It is therefore up to the Queensland government to take the lead to protect all of our children no matter where they may reside. It is inexcusable that children in detention are subject to cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in 2017 in a civilised society.”

Mr Coyne continued, “ALHR calls on the Queensland government to stay good on its promise to be transparent and accountable and adhere to the law to protect our young people. Those responsible for the abuses revealed by this report must be held to account and the Government must do all it can to end this cycle of institutional abuse and ensure the human rights of all of Queensland’s children are protected at law.”

“Taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year keeping children imprisoned in youth detention yet use of detention for juvenile offenders has not been shown to reduce crime rates or rates of reoffending. In fact, research indicates that time in a juvenile justice centre is the most significant factor in increasing the odds of recidivism. The types of systemic human rights abuses that exist in the current youth justice system create traumatised children and this not only ruins the lives of the young people involved but it ultimately results in even more taxpayers’ dollars being thrown away. A more responsible and cost effective approach would be the introduction of proven and effective early intervention and diversion programs and restorative justice approaches. There is a much smarter solution which begins with properly protecting all of our children’s fundamental human rights in order to end this cycle of institutional abuse” said Mr Coyne.

“In the human economy, the currency of basic human dignity is both indispensable and invaluable especially for our children” said Mr Coyne.

To arrange an interview with Benedict Coyne, please contact Matt Mitchell on 0431 980 365 or

 ALHR was established in 1993 and is a national organisation of Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and specialised thematic subcommittees. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.