Images reveal child abuse in Oz prison

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that he was "deeply shocked ... and appalled" at instances of abuse at the centre.

Updated - October 18, 2016 02:47 pm IST

Published - July 26, 2016 11:46 pm IST - DARWIN/CANBERRA:

A TV grab allegedly shows a teenager strapped to a chair at a detention centre in Darwin. Photo: AFP

A TV grab allegedly shows a teenager strapped to a chair at a detention centre in Darwin. Photo: AFP

Australia’s Prime Minister has launched a public inquiry after the broadcast of footage of children in detention being abused, hooded and bound in a manner likened to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Malcolm Turnbull announced a royal commission hours after the airing of shocking footage showing the treatment of the children at the Don Dale detention facility outside Darwin in the Northern Territory.

The Prime Minister said that he was “deeply shocked ... and appalled” at instances of abuse at the centre, revealed by an investigation by the national broadcaster ABC on Monday.

In one scene that the Four Corners programme compared with images from Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad, 17-year-old Dylan Voller was shown hooded and tied in a restraint chair for two hours.

Television programme

Voller — who was featured repeatedly suffering apparent mistreatment at the hands of guards — and five other former Don Dale prisoners are to sue the Northern Territory government.

The chairs are among items recently included in a widened list of “approved restraints” under laws passed by the administration. The footage broadcast in the Four Corners programme was recorded in 2014 and 2015. The programme also examined long-running issues and instances of mistreatment in the Northern Territory youth justice system.

CCTV footage showed the restraint and spit-hooding of one youth, as well as another being stripped and physically held down by guards.

Indigenous youths make up 96 per cent of the young prison population in the Northern Territory, and Indigenous people are overwhelmingly represented in the NT prison system across the board. Indigenous people make up 30 per cent of the overall population of the NT.

The revelations cast a new spotlight on Australia’s treatment of Indigenous people in general, and also on the NT government’s hard-line approach to crime.

In announcing the royal commission, Mr. Turnbull said the Don Dale centre had to be examined specifically but the inquiry would also consider “whether there is a culture that spreads across the detention system in the Northern Territory, whether it was specific to that centre”.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2016

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