Groups slam Qld youth detention reforms in open letter

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More than 180 human rights and legal experts, social justice organisations and Indigenous community groups have condemned Queensland law changes allowing children to be detained in police watch houses.

An open letter published on Thursday accuses the Palaszczuk government of overriding the state's Human Rights Act and disregarding several international laws.

It said recent legislative amendments to the Youth Justice Act violate children's rights and further exacerbate a crisis in Queensland's broken justice system.

The United Nations' anti-torture watchdog has been alerted to the law changes in a submission by the First Peoples Disability Network Australia, according to the letter.

Queensland Council of Social Service chief executive Aimee McVeigh said the changes were an "appalling and desperate" bid to cover up the government's failure to protect children.

"Instead of doing what works - working with the community to provide intensive support and services to young children and families to deal with the root cause of problematic behaviour - they are locking up children as young as 10 years old," she said.

The signatories said the changes could have severe detrimental impacts on those detained.

They have called on the Queensland government to repeal the amendments and for authorities to immediately stop detaining children.

Sisters Inside chief executive Debbie Kilroy said children should "never be used as political pawns".

"Legislation that allows the prolonged caging of children in watch houses and adult prisons will ensure harm for all the children and the community for generations to come," she said.

"This government is concerned about their political future, not community safety."

The groups have also called for independent oversight of all youth detention facilities and investment in community-led alternatives to incarceration.