• Two teenagers were 'likely' held in solitary confinement for 10 days. (AAP)Source: AAP
Keeping children in solitary confinement at Western Australia’s only youth jail 'probably' breached international law, an independent investigation has found.
NITV Staff Writer

14 Aug 2018 - 6:27 PM  UPDATED 14 Aug 2018 - 6:27 PM

Amnesty International Australia claimed two teenagers were mistreated in at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre in Perth following 'serious incidents of disorder' over two days in May 2017.

The report handed down on Tuesday by Inspector of Custodial Services Professor Neil Morgan said two teenage detainees were likely held in solitary confinement within the Intensive Support Unit for 10 days.

“If so” it said the Department of Justice would be in breach of UN guidelines including the Convention against Torture.

The report concluded that “poor recording keeping” and the destruction of CCTV footage meant there was not evidence to support the majority of allegations made by the human rights group.

One of the detainees, identified in the report as ‘John’, is a 19-year-old Maori man who faces deportation to New Zealand on release from an adult prison. 

The other detainee, identified only as ‘Richard’, is a 17-year-old Aboriginal teenager who remains at Banksia Hill.

Amnesty has been publicly campaigning against their alleged mistreatment since January. However, the report found that the group’s claims of prolonged solitary confinement and other abuse were generally not substantiated.

The most serious of the unproven claims were that the pair were regularly strip-searched; deprived of food, electricity, showers and bedding; kept in cells compared to dog kennels; and that ‘John’ attempted self-harm over 100 times while in the centre’s intensive support unit.

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The evidence did support the claim that they did not get the required two hours out of their cell every 24 hours during their 10-day solitary confinement.

The inspector recommended overhauling “obsolete” legislation around isolation and confinement and recommended updating record keeping practices.

“The centre still faces serious challenges,” Mr Morgan said in a statement.

“Above all, it is risky, wrong and ineffectual to keep all young people in the one place. We need to follow the lead of other states and have smaller facilities that cater for regional, age and gender diversity.”

Amnesty International Australia is calling for WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan to fix the state’s “broken” youth justice system.

“It’s a stain on Western Australia that these domestic laws don’t meet the standards of international law,” Amnesty's Indigenous Rights Manager Tammy Solonec said.

“The children of WA deserve better.” 

George Newhouse, from the not for profit legal service National Justice Project, says it is not good enough that the records weren't there.

“It’s unclear why that evidence doesn’t exist, when there should have been incident reports and CCTV recordings kept at the time," he said.

"These findings do not mean that the mistreatment that our clients have reported did not happen.”

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