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NT youth detainees to 'stay put': Giles

AAP logoAAP 27/07/2016 By Neda Vanovac

Youth detainees at Darwin's Don Dale detention centre will be staying put for now as the government works to purpose-build a new facility, the Northern Territory's chief minister says.

The government had pledged to shut the infamous Don Dale youth detention centre, a repurposed wing of the former Berrimah adult jail which the former corrections commissioner said was only fit to be bulldozed.

The government was considering three former detention centres, including Wickham Point, which was described by the Australian Human Rights Commission as "completely inappropriate for children".

But on Thursday night Chief Minister Adam Giles told Nine News that "I'm advised by our corrections commissioner that the current environment is good enough, so they won't be moving at this stage".

The federal government unveiled the terms of reference for the royal commission into the child protection and youth justice systems of the NT, announcing former NT Supreme Court Justice Brian Ross Martin QC as commissioner.

Aboriginal groups had been calling for a role in drafting the terms of reference, and want the NT government excluded from the process.

"The chief minister has conducted himself shamefully since the horrific revelations on 4 Corners by refusing to take responsibility, shift the blame and continuing to try and demonise our children," said Ross Jakamarra Williams, chairman of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Amnesty International and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR)on Thursday both called for the federal government to ratify the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in order to ensure prisons are properly and independently monitored.

ALHR President Benedict Coyle said the prime minister's argument that the focus of the royal commission must be kept narrow in order to expedite the findings is "completely misconceived".

"I think there's an element of wanting to sweep this under the rug and pretend it's not happening anywhere else," he told AAP.

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