Rights of People in Prison
Western Australia’s Independent Inspector of Custodial Services today released a damning report into the circumstances surrounding a young Aboriginal woman who gave birth alone in a prison cell.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data last week that shows governments across Australia are now forcing more than 3,600 women into prisons. This marks an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year - more than double the rate of men’s, which increased by four per cent.
Lawyers and advocates from across Victoria have welcomed the Andrews Government announcement of a Royal Commission into police misconduct, but say the Andrews Government should immediately establish an independent Police Corruption & Misconduct Division within IBAC.
The Australian Government should not be allowed to pick and choose what detention facilities can be scrutinised under the UN anti-torture treaty, the Human Rights Law Centre said in a submission to the Human Rights Commission.
The Andrews Government has pushed divisive anti-association laws through the lower house of Parliament today. The laws will give police excessive powers to issue ‘anti-association notices’, telling people – including children as young as 14 – who they can and can’t be friends with or spend time with.
Australian governments must put in place life-saving Custody Notification Services in every state and territory to address one of the most significant human rights issues in Australia – the preventable deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Human rights lawyers are calling on WA Corrective Services Minister, Francis Logan, to categorically prohibit solitary confinement for children, in the wake of a report by the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services into alleged ill-treatment at the notorious Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre.
This week marks the two year anniversary since the horrific images of child abuse in Don Dale youth prison were beamed across the nation, leading to the Northern Territory Royal Commission.
The Australian Government has been urged to improve its track record on women’s rights overnight by an expert UN Committee on women’s rights.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women made its criticism after a robust review earlier this month to assess Australia’s progress on ending discrimination against women.
The Victorian Government will today introduce chilling new laws to restrict the ability of Victorians to freely spend time together.
Australian governments should end the routine strip searching of women in prison the Human Rights Law Centre has told the UN Human Rights Council in a statement delivered in Geneva overnight.
The Northern Territory Supreme Court has today held that the now repealed Alcohol Protection Order (APO) regime was valid and not in breach of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act.
Children in the Northern Territory will be better protected from Don Dale-like abuse behind bars with the Gunner Government today passing landmark laws that will prohibit harm to children. The laws will solidify key recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
After a week of intense negotiations, the Western Australian Government has avoided urgent Supreme Court action by allowing a newborn Aboriginal baby to remain with her mother.
Statistics released this week reveal the Gunner Government is sending more men and women to prison than ever before – a direct result of Chief Minister Gunner’s failure to repeal mandatory sentencing laws.
A report released by the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services has detailed horrific conditions and treatment in Western Australia’s only youth jail, Banksia Hill. The Inspector has called on the McGowan Government to take urgent action.
A damning Victorian Parliamentary report into youth justice released yesterday shows the Andrews Government is harming children in its care by forcing them into solitary confinement.Ruth Barson, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that starving a child of human contact is one of the most damaging things we can do and the Government should prohibit it outright.
One day after the Northern Territory Government gave an in principle promise to raise the age of criminal responsibility, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has released data painting a diabolical picture of punitive and out-of-date youth justice systems across Australia.
The Northern Territory today became the first government to commit to raising the age at which children can be charged and sent to prison.
The closure of the NT's notorious Don Dale youth prison couldn’t come soon enough, but the Turnbull Government needs to help fund the creation of safe, home-like facilities built for children to replace it.
The Federal Government has completely failed to lead in its response to the Northern Territory Royal Commission’s report on how to fix failing youth justice and child protection systems.Shahleena Musk, a Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the Federal Government was trying to wash its hands of responsibility at the very time it needed to show leadership to fix broken youth justice systems across Australia.
Australian Governments must prohibit the solitary confinement of children in detention and closely regulate practices that can result in the forced isolation or segregation of a child. So what is solitary confinement?
The Australian Government has ratified an important UN torture prevention treaty. The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is a mechanism established to prevent cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in places of detention.
Women in Victorian prisons are being regularly and routinely subjected to degrading strip-searches and the Government should end the practice. Speaking at the launch of a new report, the HRLC's Ruth Barson said being forced to remove every last item of clothing again and again, strips women of dignity and of hope.
The Victorian Ombudsman has released a critical report highlighting ‘humiliating, degrading and undignified’ strip search practices in a Victorian women’s prison. The report shows Victoria is breaching human rights standards by subjecting women to routine strip searches, extended solitary confinement and excessive use of restraints.
Following Universal Children’s Day, doctors, lawyers, health and human rights experts from across Australia are calling for the age when children can be held criminally liable to be raised to at least 14 years so that primary school aged children are not entangled in the criminal justice system.
“The Royal Commission laid bare the devastating cost of removing children from their families and locking them away behind bars. Prisons fail children," said Shahleena Musk.
Australia was condemned overnight by a UN Human Rights Committee for its human rights record on a range of issues including refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, youth justice and democratic freedoms.
Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that state and territory criminal justice systems are out of balance and that governments around Australia have a responsibility to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to stem the number of people being sent to prison.
More examples of the serious mistreatment and harm to children in Australian youth detention centres have been detailed in damning reports from Western Australia’s independent Inspector of Custodial Services and Queensland’s Youth Detention Inspectorate.
We need to rethink a system that is funnelling people into harmful prisons as the default response, writes Shahleena Musk.
How we treat people in prison matters not just because most will be released back into the community, but because we are all diminished the moment we start picking and choosing who is deserving of dignity, writes Ruth Barson.
How children could be left to languish in solitary confinement; how the abuses in Don Dale went unchecked for so long before journalists and advocates exposed a system rotten to its core.This Friday Australia will be provided with answers.
Youth justice in Victoria is at the crossroads. The Supreme Court has ruled, yet again, that it was unlawful for the Victorian government to lock up children at the state’s most notorious maximum security adult jail.
Mandatory sentences are not the right tool for reducing crime, writes our Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, following the misguided policy announcement from Victoria's Opposition Leader.
Just a day after Victoria’s highest court confirmed the government acted unlawfully in detaining children at the Barwon adult prison, the Minister has tried yet again to keep them there. The government is spending extraordinary resources defending the indefensible – jailing children in the state’s most notorious adult prison.
There is indeed a crisis in Victoria's youth justice system. It is not one, as the Government suggests, of available beds or suitable facilities – these things are imminently fixable with a dose of political will. Rather, the crisis is one of a myopic outlook and a merciless attitude: a willingness to countenance cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Brutal images of Aboriginal women and children being mistreated in custody are a defining feature of 2016. From Dylan Voller and the young detainees of Don Dale to Ms Dhu, Australians have been forced to reckon with the cruel reality of Australia's over-imprisonment crisis.
I've just returned from Barwon maximum security adult prison. I found myself squatting on the floor to talk to one of our clients – a 16-year-old child – through the trapdoor to his cell. The tight steel opening so small I could only see his anxious eyes. He is being held in solitary confinement; pacing his cell, uncertain when he will be let out. He hasn't seen the sky since Thursday.
We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the riot at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre. We don’t need lazy, kneejerk populist responses, like transferring kids to adults jails, which are designed to sound tough on crime and which in fact will only make things worse.
In his words
Throughout the case, we worked to make sure the voices of our clients were heard The Herald Sun published the following story about our Supreme Court challenge against the Victorian Government to stop the use of Barwon prison to detain children. It includes a letter written by one of our clients. Click here to read the full letter.