Australia’s Abu Ghraib

Looks familiar

WHEN he announced plans on July 25th to strengthen Australia’s anti-terrorism laws, Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, declared that his administration’s “primary duty” was to keep citizens safe. Within hours Australians were watching videos of government employees doing harm. Inmates of a youth detention centre at Darwin, in the Northern Territory, most of them indigenous children, were shown being thrown on floors, manacled, stunned with tear gas and subjected to other cruel treatment by prison guards. Dylan Voller, then aged 17, was left alone in a cell for two hours after guards had tied his arms, feet and head to a metal chair and put a hood over his face.

The prison videos were shown on “Four Corners”, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) programme. Mr Turnbull said he was “shocked and appalled” and announced a royal commission inquiry to “expose the culture that allowed it to occur and allowed it to remain unrevealed for so long”.

In fact, lawyers and indigenous leaders have long called for government action to cut Australia’s high rate of aboriginal youth imprisonment. Mick Gooda, an...Continue reading

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