ACT News

Indonesian teen jailed for people smuggling will push to have conviction quashed

An Indonesian teenager jailed as an adult for people smuggling will push to have his conviction quashed.

Ali Yasmin, also known as Ali Jasmin, was 14 in 2010 when he was convicted of people smuggling and sentenced to five years behind bars in a maximum security prison.

System failure ... Ali Yasmin.
System failure ... Ali Yasmin.  Photo: The Project, Channel Ten

He was jailed despite the Australian government having evidence at the time that showed he was a child.

Yasmin had celebrated his 16th birthday by the time he was released in May 2012.

Ali Yasmin in 2012.
Ali Yasmin in 2012.  Photo: The Project, Channel Ten

Yasmin, represented by Canberra law firm Ken Cush and Associates, filed papers in the Federal Court this week in an attempt to force Attorney-General George Brandis to refer the case to the Court of Appeal of Western Australia.

If successful, Yasmin could then ask the WA court to quash his conviction as he was a child at the time.

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At the time the federal government policy stated Indonesian boat crew found to be children should not be prosecuted.

The policy said those with doubts about their age should be sent home.

If Yasmin were successful in having his conviction quashed, it could open up the possibility of him suing for wrongful imprisonment.

Documents said Senator Brandis' failure to refer the matter, despite receiving a request in July, "constitutes unreasonable delay in making the decision".

"[Ali Yasmin] is aggrieved by the failure because … [he] alleges that the conviction involved injustice," the documents said.

"By letter dated 16 July 2014 to [Mr Brandis] the applicant sought referral of his conviction to the Court of Appeal of Western Australia.

"The respondent has not provided a decision in relation to this referral."

Yasmin's lawyers asked the Federal Court to order Senator Brandis to make a decision within 14 days.

Yasmin was born in 1996 in Bala Uring, a village on the island of Flores.

He left school to become a fisherman to support his family after the death of his father.

In December 2009, aged 13, he was one of four crew aboard a boat carrying about 55 Afghan nationals when it was intercepted by Australian authorities.

He was taken to Perth and jailed for people smuggling a year later.

An Australian Human Rights Commission investigation into the treatment of children suspected of people-smuggling discovered Yasmin's birth certificate, a confirmation letter from the Indonesian National Police, and other documents proving he was underage were never presented in court.

The Department of Immigration estimated he was about 14.

A parliamentary inquiry heard the Australian Federal Police chose to ignore the documents and instead used an unreliable wrist X-ray technique, which estimated Yasmin's age as 19.

The matter is due to come before the court later this month.