Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell says two Aboriginal youths were held in police custody for two days without access to legal advice.
Police confirmed the pair were held in custody during an investigation into allegations of burglary and stealing offences.
Mr Mansell said the youths, aged 16 and 17, were apprehended by police on Sunday and detained at the Hobart Remand Centre until they were taken to court on Tuesday.
“All the rules of fairness with these two youths were broken, and none of the rights of children protected in this case,” he said.
“The youths had no access to legal advice because the Victorian based Aboriginal Legal Service does not give advice out of hours to Tasmanian Aboriginal clients,” he said.
In a statement police said no complaints had been regarding police conduct towards the youths.
“All legislative and procedural matters were adhered to in regards to the youths’ detention and subsequent presentation before court; including contact with family members,” a police spokesman said.
Mr Mansell said one was bailed and the other remanded to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
He said under Tasmanian law police had to take an arrested person to court as soon as practicable.
“That did not happen in this instance. Why was there such a long delay?’ Mr Mansell said.
“This left the youths vulnerable and unsupported.
“Duty lawyers available on Monday morning were not offered to the families.”
He said one of the youths also had facial injuries which should be investigated.
Mr Mansell, who chairs the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania said the Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service, which was replaced with a Victorian-based service in 2015, should be reinstated.
He said he was forced to speak out on behalf of the two youths and their families because they had no confidence in the current legal service which they believed had failed them.
“It is a ridiculous situation where a Land Council has to take up legal matters on behalf of young people in contact with police because those youths, their families and the Aboriginal community generally, lack confidence in the legal aid arrangements in Tasmania,” he said.