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Title: The Bad Child Tourist: Reading Children's Rights Abroad
Contributor(s): Simpson, Brian H (author)
Publication Date: 2012
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Abstract: In October 2011 a 14 year old Australian boy was arrested in Bali for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He became known as 'Bali boy'. What followed was a remarkable saga that included the involvement of the Australian Prime Minister as well as intense media interest, a media that was freed from the restrictions that exist in Australia with respect to the reporting of juvenile court matters. The case has significance for a number of reasons. The broadcasting of the masked and capped boy being taken into and out of the court served to both demonize him and, to some extent, the Indonesian court system. The penalties for possession of marijuana in Indonesia are more severe than in Australia and the apparent lack of a separate court system for juveniles together with the concern that there was a real possibility of imprisonment alongside adult offenders added to the notion that this was some sort of 'nightmare' for the family involved. However, other than scant reference to the prison conditions that the 'Bali boy' may endure if imprisoned alongside other Indonesian juveniles, there was little discussion in the Australian media about the human rights of children in Indonesia generally. Another layer of significance is the manner in which these images of the boy, together with other information about him and his peers, were reported widely in Australian media. Although not bound by domestic law that would forbid such reporting, there was nevertheless no apparent consideration given to the fact that 'Bali boy' would be returning to Australia and have to rejoin the community. The perception that he had less right to privacy abroad was quickly transferred to how he was represented at home. What does this say about Australia's commitment to children's rights? The child was ultimately given a short period of detention, albeit not in a prison facility. It was reported that this sentence was imposed in part due to the damage done to the tourist reputation of Bali. Again, this was reported uncritically in Australia and there was no discussion as to why the general treatment of child offenders in Indonesia is not similarly connected with tourism. The case raises a number of difficult issues with respect to cultural and political differences with respect to the treatment of children. 'Bali boy' was both a bad child tourist, yet also in many ways an innocent abroad. He was cast as a child subjected quite properly to the law of the land in which he was visiting, yet also out of his cultural context and so in need of special protection. Yet at the same time the notion of universal children's rights as represented in the UN Convention on Children's Rights was noticeably absent from public discussion of the case. How then do we read 'Bali boy'?
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: Law and Society Association Annual Meeting: Sociolegal Conversations across a Sea of Islands, Honolulu, Hawaii, 5th - 8th June, 2012
Conference Details: Law and Society Association Annual Meeting: Sociolegal Conversations across a Sea of Islands, Honolulu, Hawaii, 5th - 8th June, 2012
Source of Publication: Law and Society Association 2012 International Meeting Program (Session: Children in Law: How To Do Things with Child Rights?)
Publisher: All Academic, Inc
Place of Publication: online
Field of Research (FOR): 180113 Family Law
189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified
180116 International Law (excl International Trade Law)
HERDC Category Description: E3 Extract of Scholarly Conference Publication
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