An inquiry into people-smugglers serving sentences in Australian prisons has revealed that at least three of them may have been children when they were apprehended.
Under pressure from rights groups, Nicola Roxon, Australia's federal attorney-general, ordered a review into 28 cases of people who might have legally been children at the time of their convictions.
Roxon announced on Thursday that a review of the first three cases confirmed that there was sufficient reason to believe the prisoners were underage and that they should be returned to their country of origin.
"Minors don't belong in adult jails, which is why the government committed to review these cases as quickly as possible," Ms Roxon said, in comments reported by the Australian newspaper.
There are more than 200 individuals currently serving prison sentences in Australian prisons for having been members of boat crews that attempted to smuggle clandestine migrants into the country.
Most of the human traffickers are from neighbouring Indonesia.
'Embarrassing for government'
Most of those accused of crewing the smuggling boats are convicted on aggravated people-smuggling charges.
Under Australian law, this equates to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment, with a three-year non-parole period.
Aside from the smugglers, there are about 3,000 asylum-seekers who have arrived in Australia in the first four months of 2012.
All asylum-seekers are put into mandatory detention while their cases are reviewed.
Many of them are also children, and there is a campaign by human rights groups to have underage asylum-seekers released.
|< Prev||Next >|
Other articles in Americas
Zuluaga wins first round of #Colombia election 26 May 2014
#Hollywood director's son 'shoots six dead' 24 May 2014
Rare meteor shower to illuminate Americas 24 May 2014
US states revise death penalty options 23 May 2014
Police among suspects in US child porn bust 22 May 2014
#Brazil bus strike sparks Sao Paulo chaos 21 May 2014
#CIA will end use of vaccine ruse for spying 21 May 2014
Colombia's Zuluaga denies hacking claims 21 May 2014
UK preacher Abu Hamza found guilty in US 19 May 2014
Dozens of children burn to death in #Colombia 19 May 2014