• Images released by Amnesty International (AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL)Source: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Images showing the alleged abuse of incarcerated children at Townsville's Cleveland Youth Detention Centre have been released by Amnesty International, with a spokeswoman for the group saying Aboriginal children were disproportionately affected.
James Elton-Pym

18 Aug 2016 - 6:12 PM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2016 - 6:12 PM

Questions have been raised over the alleged mistreatment and abuse of inmates at the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville following the release of a cache of secret documents.

Human rights group Amnesty International obtained CCTV images and more than 1,000 pages of documents under Freedom of Information laws.

The group alleges the documents provide evidence for the abuse of children in the Queensland prison system going back as far as 2007.

“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that these serious allegations of human rights abuses have been sitting on the desks of politicians, gathering dust, in some cases for many years,” Amnesty Indigenous rights campaigner Roxanne Moore told NITV News.

“There is a cloak of secrecy on youth detention . . . we know that it’s happening all over Australia.”

An investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners program last month into the Northern Territory’s Don Dale detention centre led to the announcement of a royal commission into youth detention in the NT.

Ms Moore said the Queensland documents revealed the need for “independent inspectors all over Australia”.

Amnesty is urging Australia to immediately ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture – a step that would establish oversight bodies around the country.

Ms Moore said the over-representation of Indigenous children in the prison system meant those children also bore the bulk of the alleged abuse.

She said 89 percent of the children in the Cleveland Youth centre on any given day were Indigenous.

Among the cases revealed in the documents was an incident in 2012 where eight Indigenous children were held in solitary confinement for 10 days, for approximately 22 hours per day, according to Amnesty. The group said the children were not let out of their cells at all for the first two days of isolation. 

In 2015, a guard allowed an un-muzzled dog to approach an Indigenous girl in an “aggressive manner” as she was trying to get out of a pool, according to Amnesty.

Other cases allegedly involved suicide attempts, partially clothed searches and the forceful use of restraints that resulted in bone fractures.

One 17-year-old boy was allegedly held down on the floor by prison staff and put in hand and leg-cuffs. His clothes and underpants were then cut off with a knife. 

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said in a statement to the ABC: "All the allegations that have been put to the department over a number of years have been thoroughly investigated and referred to police or other investigative bodies where appropriate.

"Incidents have been detailed in reports, and recommendations have been made for reform and been put into action."

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