Sat July 21, 2012 7:07am
TWO Indonesian minors who spent more than a year in jail in Australia after being arrested for people smuggling say they were sexually abused and forced to take drugs while in Sydney's Silverwater Prison.
The claims have increased calls for the federal government to hasten the release of other Indonesian minors still in jails in Australia as the issue continues to put pressure on diplomatic relations between Canberra and Jakarta.
"As far as Indonesian minors in Australian jails, there's been a commitment from both countries that it is a priority and should have special attention," a spokesman for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Friday.
The two boys, now 17 and 18 and back in Indonesia, were locked up for more than a year in Australia after they were arrested when asylum seeker boats on which they were crewing were intercepted on the way to Christmas Island.
One of the boys, identified as Susilo, was only 15 at the time of his arrest. The other boy, identified as Bambang, was 17 when he was detained.
Their names have been changed to protect their identities.
"I was afraid because I was being detained with adult criminals and drug abusers," Susilo told reporters at the Human Rights Working Group headquarters in Jakarta, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Friday.
"I keep telling the authorities that I was 15 years old and that I didn't want to stay with those criminals, but they wouldn't listen."
The lawyer for the two boys, Lisa Hiariej, said they had been subjected to frequent abuse at the hands of adult inmates while in jail in Australia.
"Several inmates took off their clothes in front of these kids, and showed their genitalia to them," Ms Hiariej said.