Newspaper article International New York Times

Australia Set to Examine Abuse at Jails for Juveniles ; Report Shows Youths Being Stripped, Shackled and Sprayed with Tear Gas

Newspaper article International New York Times

Australia Set to Examine Abuse at Jails for Juveniles ; Report Shows Youths Being Stripped, Shackled and Sprayed with Tear Gas

Article excerpt

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was "shocked and appalled" by a report that showed young detainees being shackled and tear-gassed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an investigation on Tuesday into the treatment of juvenile detainees in Australia's far north, saying he was "shocked and appalled" by a news report that showed boys being stripped, sprayed with tear gas at close range and, in one case, shackled to a chair while forced to wear a hood.

The report, broadcast on Monday night on "Four Corners," a news program of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, documented abuses at a number of facilities in the Northern Territory, including the Don Dale children's prison in the town of Berrimah, near the city of Darwin. That prison was closed in 2014, but previous inquiries into allegations of abuse there had not uncovered some of the details shown in the report, and some of the new video contradicted official accounts of past episodes.

"This is a shocking state of affairs," Mr. Turnbull said in an interview on ABC radio on Tuesday morning. "Like all Australians, I've been deeply shocked, shocked and appalled by the images of mistreatment of children at the Don Dale center. We will be establishing a Royal Commission into these events." A Royal Commission has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

The minister responsible for the Northern Territory's juvenile justice system, John Elferink, was dismissed from that job on Tuesday morning, though he continues to hold other government posts. The territory's chief minister, Adam Giles, said at a news conference that "anybody who saw that footage on television last night on 'Four Corners' would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage."

According to the report, children as young as 10 were jailed at the Don Dale prison, and some as young as 13 were held for long periods in solitary confinement. Children were locked in small, high- security cells that had no running water and no natural light, the report said. Young boys were subjected to brutal and degrading treatment, including one who was stripped and another who was hurled across his cell by a prison guard. …

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