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Australia Launches Probe Into Treatment of Aboriginal Juveniles

  • VOA News

This frame grab from Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Four Corners program broadcast in Australia on July 25, 2016, and released on July 26, 2016, allegedly shows a teenage boy hooded and strapped into a chair at a youth detention center in the Northern Territory city of Darwin.

This frame grab from Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Four Corners program broadcast in Australia on July 25, 2016, and released on July 26, 2016, allegedly shows a teenage boy hooded and strapped into a chair at a youth detention center in the Northern Territory city of Darwin.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered an investigation Tuesday into alleged abuse of Aboriginal juveniles at a detention center.

Turnbull said he was "shocked and appalled" at the images from ABC's Four Corners current affairs program aired Monday, featuring a youth detention center in the Northern Territory in 2014 and 2015.

The national broadcaster showed teenage offenders being stripped naked, tear-gassed at close range, held in solitary confinement and in one case, a 17-year-old appeared hooded and shackled to a chair for two hours.

According to the report, juveniles from 10-year-old to 13-year-old were locked in small, high-security cells with no running water or natural light at the Don Dale Detention Center, which has been the subject of complaints for years.

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth detention in the country, and 97 percent of its juvenile detainees are Aboriginal.

Human rights activists have accused the government of ignoring the issue until it became public.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns of abuse of children being held in youth detention centers in the Northern Territory,'' Julian Cleary, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia, said in a statement. “As this program shows, these are not isolated incidents.''

Human Rights Watch said it had long been urging the government to act on abuses in juvenile detentions, and that the Northern Territory was the tip of the iceberg.

Save the Children said the inquiry needed to be Australia-wide and not just into the Northern Territory.

The Australian Royal Commission, Australia's highest form of inquiry, is expected to begin holding hearings in September, with a final report due early next year, Turnbull said in response to the public outcry.

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