Amnesty report raises concerns over Australia, NZ prisons
Sydney, Australia, Mar 28 (EFE).- Amnesty International raised concerns about Australia’s discrimination of indigenous peoples, including in its prison systems, and New Zealand’s management of its correctional facilities in its annual global report published Tuesday.
Australia continued to discriminate against First Nations peoples, who were over-represented in the adult prison population, and violate the rights of child detainees, Amnesty said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remained over-represented in the adult prison population, despite targets to reduce the number of incarcerated First Nations people,” the report said, adding that during the year, 21 indigenous people died in custody.
The country also “continued to detain children as young as 10. First Nations children, who represented 6% of the population aged 10 to 17, constituted 50% of those in youth detention,” Amnesty said.
The organization cited increased rates of self-harm by detained youths, allegations of physical and sexual abuse against detained minors, and denounced the July transfer of 17 boys to a maximum security prison.
“Just this month we heard revelations of Queensland authorities keeping a 13 -year-old in solitary confinement for 22 days,” Amnesty International Australia National Director Sam Klintworth added in a statement.
Amnesty also condemned laws approved last year in the states of New South Wales and Victoria to criminalize participation in unauthorized protests.
However, it highlighted some progress, such as the acceptance of New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees a year, although said there are still pending issues to be resolved, such as “the continued detention of refugees and asylum seekers,” Klintworth said.
Amnesty raised an independent inquiry held into the practice of holding asylum seekers in criminal detention centers, saying the government accepted the report’s recommendations, including to end the practice and amend the Immigration Act.
“Reports highlighting concerns across the prison system persisted,” it also said, citing results of unannounced inspections of New Zealand jails.
One report following an Invercargill facility visit raised concerns of poor conditions leading to ill health in one unit, Amnesty said, while another claimed the experiences of several people held in one Otago unit constituted prolonged solitary confinement.
Meanwhile, Amnesty said civil society groups have raised concerns about the reform of the Ministry for Children’s oversight system, citing breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and inadequate independence. EFE