Malcolm Turnbull has announced a royal commission to investigate what exactly happened at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Some of its inmates were held in solitary confinement for a couple of weeks, giving a tough competition to Guantánamo Bay in terms of severity of punishment.
At Guantánamo Bay, the strictest punishment comes in the form of a 20-day solitary confinement. While the United States military prison is notoriously accused of its harsh measures, stories about Australia’s youth detention center have started shocking many.
According to child rights lawyers, Australia puts children as young as 13 into solitary confinement. At Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, there are 10-year-olds.
Some call it child abuse, some barbarism.
The children, who are kept in solitary confinement, do not have access to running water or sunlight. The policy is deemed as deliberate, punitive and cruel.
“If I treated my children like that, the authorities would take my children from me quite properly because I would be behaving cruelly to them,” says one lawyer.
Prison guards allegedly tear-gassed six boys at close range in 2014. The boys sued the Northern Territory Government over the alleged mistreatment at the facility. However, the NT government sued two of them back.
The government claimed the two boys caused AU$89,000 in damage as they tried to escape from the detention center. According to the government, the boys stole one car and rammed a roller-door to get back to the prison. There is no counter-allegation against the rest of the boys.
According to the video footage of the infamous incident at the center, guards were seen laughing at one of the boys. They called him a “fu**ing idiot.” One of the guards wanted to teach the “little fu**er” a lesson with the use “fu**ing gas.”
Thanks to an investigation by The ABC which calls it “Australia’s Shame,” the situation at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre has grabbed attention. It will be noteworthy to see how the Turnbull government handles the issue from here on.