Thursday, February 12, 2015

Australia tortures children

Yesterday the Australian government finally released the Australian Human Rights Commission's inquiry into children in immigration detention. And its horrific:

The report interviewed 1129 children over a 15-month period from January 2013 to March 2014, spanning both the Labor and Coalition governments. It shows there were 233 recorded assaults involving children and 33 incidents of reported sexual assault.

The damning report is the largest survey of children in detention ever conducted anywhere in the world. It calls for 119 children on Nauru to be removed into the Australian community; for Christmas Island to be shut down; and for an independent guardian for unaccompanied children.

It alleges human rights violations and says children being detained indefinitely on Nauru are "suffering from extreme levels of physical, emotional, psychological and developmental distress".

The AHRC recommends a royal commission to conduct a further inquiry into "the use of force by the Commonwealth against children in detention and allegations of sexual assault against these children" as well as remedies for their detention. But that's not enough. This detention is causing severe mental pain and suffering. And this pain and suffering is being purposefully inflicted for one purpose and one purpose only: to force them and their parents to give up on their asylum claims and leave Australia.

The intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering for coercive purposes has a name: it's called torture. Its a crime in Australia (and everywhere else), and those responsible for it - both the guards and the policymakers who gave the orders - should be prosecuted for it. And if the Australian government won't prosecute its own, then we should exercise our universal jurisdiction and do it for them.

The full report is here [PDF].