The Queensland Government must encourage transparency in youth detention centres and police watchhouses, when it establishes the new independent inspectorate of correctional services.
In a positive move, Queensland last week agreed to establish an independent inspectorate for adult prisons, but has not committed to giving the inspector access to all places of detention – including the centres where brutal abuses of children were exposed last year.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children bear the brunt of this abuse, being 22 times more likely to be locked up in Queensland than non-Indigenous children.
Shine a light
“The decision to set up an independent inspector of prisons is a welcome step. The inspector must shine a light into all the dark places in Queensland where people are locked up, especially children. It’s the only way to ensure the abuses of children in Cleveland and Brisbane youth detention centres never happen again,” said Roxanne Moore, Indigenous Rights Campaigner.
Establishing the Independent Inspectorate in Queensland is a step towards complying with the Optional Protocol on the UN Convention against Torture, which Australia is due to ratify later this year.
Dogs, knives, solitary confinement.
Last year Amnesty International revealed shocking treatment of children in Queensland’s youth detention centres, including the use of a dog to intimidate an Indigenous girl; a boy being forcibly stripped naked with a knife; solitary confinement; and harsh use of restraints.
The exposé sparked an independent review into youth detention, which handed its findings to the Government in December, but they still have not been publicly released.
“It has been three months since the Youth Detention Review gave its findings to the Government. It’s time for a public response from the Queensland Attorney-General with a plan for how to protect children behind bars,” urged Roxanne Moore.