Royal Commission into Don Dale torture of children must be national

Royal Commission into Don Dale torture of children must be national: Plan International Australia

Children’s rights organisation Plan International Australia welcomes Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement the Coalition will carry out a Royal Commission into abuse of children at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

However, it strongly encourages the government to establish a broader national inquiry, investigating the juvenile justice system across Australia, not just localised to the Northern Territory.

Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart said the incredibly cruel treatment of children at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre, as exposed by ABC’s 4 Corners program last night, was a clear breach of human rights.

“What we saw last night strikes at the very heart of Australia’s commitments to ensure that children are free from inhuman and degrading treatment in detention, it is a clear breach of both the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Mr Wishart said.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee clearly details how children should be treated in detention. It emphasises any sort of solitary confinement or punishment that compromises the physical or mental health or well-being of a child is strictly forbidden under the Convention (General Comment No.10, 2007).

“We have good reason to believe abuse of minors’ human rights is a problem throughout Australian juvenile detention centres,” Mr Wishart said.

“In Queensland, 17-year-old children are locked up in adult prisons. In Western Australia, mandatory minimum sentencing means longer jail terms for young offenders.

“We also know that these laws disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are 24 times more likely to be in detention than other children. It’s time to shine a spotlight on the treatment of children in the juvenile justice system across Australia.”

A Royal Commission into the juvenile justice system should hear directly from children who have been in juvenile detention, he added.

“Children and young people must be an integral part of identifying the problems in the system as well as developing the solutions.

“This is a moment in time when the Australian government can show real leadership in improving the lives of children who find themselves in the juvenile justice system.”

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 79 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Jane Gardner, Media Relations Manager, 0438 130 905 / jane.gardner@plan.org.au