In response to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly’s introduction of the Youth Justice Amendment Bill 2019, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate Joel Clark said:
“The amendments rushed through by the NT Government are dangerous. They are taking the system back to the dark days of the old Don Dale. The Government has made a mistake.
The amendments rushed through by the NT Government are dangerous. They are taking the system back to the dark days of the old Don Dale. The Government has made a mistake.
“The Government says it is ‘clarifying’ the definitions of separation and use of force, but what it’s really doing is giving the green light to what could amount to torture for the ‘good order’ of the centre. Locking kids in separation, and using force and restraints will not create good order – has the government learnt nothing from the past, or from the NT Royal Commission?
“Staff should have the skills to diffuse imminent risk of harm without having to resort to practices that don’t meet international standards, such as isolation and use of force.
“International standards clearly state that instruments of restraint and force can only be used in exceptional circumstances where all other control methods have been exhausted and failed. The Government has missed the mark on their re-definition and is putting kids at risk of further harm.
“These rules were changed to meet the recommendations of the NT Royal Commission and other experts. By flying in the face of their expertise, the Government could see repeats of the horrific images that came out of Don Dale in 2016. We can’t have any more kids put through that kind of ordeal.”
In regards to the Government’s response that these amendments will protect children at risk of harm or suicide, Mr Clark said:
“Prison isn’t the right place for a child who is at risk of suicide or self harm – especially in isolation. That needs to be addressed in the mental health system.”