The ABC Four Corners report into the abuse of children in Northern Territory detention centres shocked the nation.
The episode, titled “Australia’s Shame: The brutalisation of children behind bars”, revealed children in solitary confinement for more than a fortnight, and in one incident, sprayed with tear gas in their cells. It showed graphic images of children being stripped down, beaten and hog-tied.
Less than 12 hours later, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a royal commission into what had occurred, pledging to “get to the bottom” of the issue that occurred predominately in 2014.
One of the victims of the abuse showed is Dylan Voller, 18, who has been repeatedly institutionalised since age 12.
Voller’s treatment include being taped into a “restraint chair” with a spit hood over his head, for two hours. It’s the image that has people comparing the Northern Territory justice system to Guantanamo Bay and the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, writes Simon Thomsen.
Other footage also showed Voller kicked and punched to the ground by a guard after he was asked to get off the phone and initially refused.
One former detainee alleged that guards attempted to encourage other prisoners to abuse Voller, including throwing hot water over him.
On Tuesday evening, his solicitor Peter O’Brien released a letter written by the teenager, who remains in custody, which thanked the Australian public for their support.
“I would just like to thank the whole Australian community for the support you have showed for us boys as well as our families,” Voller wrote.
“I would also like to take the opportunity to [apologise] to the community for my wrongs and I can’t wait to get out and make up for them.”
See it in full here.
Dylan Voller has instructed us to release this letter: pic.twitter.com/yJoZHoAgJn
— Peter O'Brien (@OBrienSolicitor) July 26, 2016
O’Brien has been demanding Voller’s immediate release and says the PM’s Royal Commission “needs to be as broad as possible”.
Here’s a statement from O’Brien Solicitors, published by SBS.
“Dylan Voller has been my client since 2015. We act for him, and Jake Roper, in a suit against the Northern Territory government for assault, battery and false imprisonment, arising from their treatment within the NT youth detention system.
“He must be released immediately. The impact of these years of brutalisation must be immediately measured and he needs immediate assistance.
“Any child locked up in solitary confinement in the Northern Territory need to be released immediately.
“The terms of reference of the Royal Commission need to be as broad as possible. It seems that this abuse is built into the very core of the system. For instance, for cases alleging intentional abuse by those in authority in the Northern Territory, there is a 28 day limitation period – people in every other state in the country has three or six years to commence their claim. This type of system prevents accountability and transparency, and allows abuse to go unchecked.
“The laws of the Northern Territory are written to make it as difficult as possible for people who have been victims of state-related abuse to seek justice.
“The Territory’s defence claims that the state is not vicariously liable for the actions of the guards. That is their defence, a matter we dispute, and to be determined by the court.”
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