TV footage of abuse at youth detention center in Australia prompts investigation

SYDNEY, July 26 (UPI) — Staff at a juvenile detention facility in Australia’s Northern Territory are being investigated after video footage aired on television showing abuse of children.

The program “Four Corners” aired an expose Monday night on abuse at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which closed in 2014. Closed-circuit footage showed staff stripping, shackling, and teargassing boys who were assigned to the center – some as young as 10.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday he is “shocked and appalled” at the footage and will be conducting an investigation into treatment of the detainees.

According to Human Rights Watch, abuse at the facility was the subject of a 2015 Northern Territory’s Children’s Commission Report which urged officials to act to ensure the rights of the children in custody at the facility – 98 percent of whom are Aborigines.

“It is a bad situation, and it is getting worse,” said John B. Lawrence, a lawyer who has familiarity with the detention system in the territory.

According to Lawrence, Aborigines were imprisoned at a higher rate and often for small crimes.

John Elferink, Northern Territory corrections minister, was fired on Tuesday morning following the “Four Corners” episode.

“We want to know why there were inquiries into this center which did not turn up the evidence and the information we saw on ‘Four Corners,'” Turnbull said about one of the goals of the investigation.

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