This frame grab from recent footage shows a male juvenile (top center) being kicked by a prison guard at a youth detention center in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, Australia. (Via AFP)
Australia has launched a counter-suit against two of the six aboriginal children recently revealed to have been abused by prison guards, alleging the minors had damaged the prison in an escape attempt.
Footage broadcast recently showed minors purportedly being abused at the hands of guards, who were seen hooding the youths, strapping them to chairs naked or half-naked, and throwing them into a cell by the neck at the Don Dale Youth Detention Center.
The victims filed lawsuits against the center and the guards, seeking compensation. Court documents from their legal complaint “outline in vivid detail mistreatment by staff at the facility, including beatings with batons and the use of teargas,” according to Reuters.
In a July 4 response to the complaints, the Northern Territory government counter-sued, seeking over 120,000 US dollars in damages for “an escape attempt in which two of the boys stole a car, before using it to ram a roller-door and re-enter the prison.”
The government is further seeking interest on the damages and the reimbursement of its legal costs.
Aborigines comprise only three percent of Australia’s population but make up 27 percent of prison inmates and represent a whopping 94 percent of the Northern Territory’s juveniles detainees.
This frame grab from footage recently released purportedly shows a male minor (R) pushed into the wall by prison guards at a youth detention center in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, Australia. (Via AFP)
Attorneys for the two boys identified in the escape effort, Jake Roper and Dylan Voller, declined to comment on the escape attempt accusation.
The revelation of the abuse prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to order a Royal Commission, the most powerful inquiry in the country, to launch a thorough investigation into the mistreatment of children in detention. He has, however, rejected calls for a broader national inquiry.
Rights group Save the Children has insisted that the probe needs to be Australia-wide.
Local rights activists say UK-based Amnesty International has already warned Australian authorities about the abuse of minors in the Northern Territory prisons, adding that the government ignored the issue since the teens involved were indigenous.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has said that the police use of hoods, restraints and teargas on Australian aboriginal children in youth detention centers could be in violation of the UN treaty barring torture.