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PM sweeping other prison abuses under rug

AAP logoAAP 28/07/2016 Neda Vanovac

The prime minister is trying to sweep under the rug the horrors that may be lurking in other juvenile detention centres by not expanding a royal commission into the NT to examine the whole country, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights say.

ALHR have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to broaden the imminent NT investigation to look at youth imprisonment systems in all jurisdictions, and say his argument the focus 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," ALHR President Benedict Coyle told AAP on Thursday.

"I think the prime minister is probably scared to find out what's hiding in the corners of each state and territory, and doesn't want this to be aired because it would be an embarrassing occasion for Australia to get real about its very low and unacceptable standards of detaining young people."

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is ongoing, he said, "and we haven't learned anything, because here we are in 2016 abusing children in institutions".

ALHR has joined Amnesty International in calling for the government to ratify the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in order to ensure prisons are properly and independently monitored.

"A number of human rights bodies have determined that the practice of hooding, most notably used at Guantanamo Bay and in the Abu Ghraib prison camp, constitutes a form of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," said Amnesty International spokesperson Champa Patel.

"Only after it ratifies OPCAT can the Australian government, and all states and territories in its jurisdiction, be held to account for the mistreatment of people in detention facilities; this alarming new footage proves that Australia cannot delay any longer, children are suffering horrendous abuse."

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