The United Nations (UN) says the recently-revealed mistreatment of aboriginal minors in an Australian prison could amount to torture.
The harsh treatment of
the minors was revealed on Monday, when the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation (ABC) released a video clip from the Don Dale Youth
Detention Center in Australia’s Northern Territory.
shot between 2010-2014, showed guards beating six teenage prisoners,
tear-gassing them, throwing them into cells by the neck, covering their
heads with hoods and strapping them naked or half-naked to special
“It’s hard to tell only from the video or the press
coverage but I do think that it’s a very worrisome development that can
amount to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under any
circumstance,” said Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture,
The revelation prompted Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull to order a Royal Commission, the most powerful inquiry in the
country, to launch a thorough investigation into the mistreatment of
children in detention.
Australia’s Northern Territory has also suspended the use of hood restraints on children.
Rights body Save the
Children has said the investigation needs to be Australia-wide, and not
just limited to the Northern Territory.
Warren Mundine, an
Australian Aboriginal leader, has said the crime rate within the
community of the native Australians has to be investigated, too.
you’re just looking at abuses in the system, you’re not going to
resolve the bigger issue. We need to deal with crime rates within
indigenous communities… You just can’t do one without the other,” said
Mundine, who also heads the prime minister’s indigenous advisory
council, on Wednesday.
Local human rights activists say UK-based
Amnesty International has already warned Australian officials about the
abuse of children in the Northern Territory prisons.
They say the government has turned a blind eye to the issue because the teens involved were indigenous.
Australia’s 24 million people, some 700,000 are aborigines, who rank
near the bottom of almost every economic and social indicator.
Aborigines also make up the majority of the Northern Territory’s
population as well as about 95 percent of its minor detainees.