Friday, August 5, 2016

Video of Detention Center in Australia Shows Abuse of Children

The United Nations human rights office said it was shocked by video footage that has emerged from Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in Australia, showing children as young as 10 years old – many of whom are Aboriginal children – being held in inhumane conditions and treated cruelly. “Some children were held in isolation for extended periods, sometimes for several weeks, in hot and dark cells with no access to fresh air or running water. In one incident, six children were tear-gassed by prison guards,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The videos, from 2014, show another child hooded and strapped to a chair for several hours. Others are shown being repeatedly assaulted and stripped naked. According to the children’s testimony, the abuses took place over several years. Most of the children who were held at the detention facility are deeply traumatized, the spokesperson said.

Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that “every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”

Mr. Colville noted that the announcement by the Government of Australia of an investigation into youth detention in the Northern Territory is an “important step.” In that regard, he encouraged the Government to extend the scope of the investigation beyond the Northern Territory to establish that such treatment is not occurring in any other place of detention in the country. “We call on the authorities to identify those who committed abuses against the children and to hold them responsible for such acts. The children who were abused at Don Dale should receive psychosocial rehabilitation to overcome the trauma they have suffered,” the spokesperson said, stressing that compensation should also be provided. He also called on Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

“This important instrument focuses on the prevention of torture. Under the Protocol, Australia would establish a National Preventive Mechanism which conducts regular visits to all places of detention in the country,” Mr. Colville said.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

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