Queensland 'Holds The Title' For Locking Up Young Kids
Queensland leads the country in locking up 10 and 11-year-old children and could be breaching United Nations conventions on children's rights and torture, Amnesty International claims.
The rights group will on Wednesday release a grim report on Queensland's juvenile justice system after reviewing 1000 pages of documents on the alleged abuse and mistreatment of children in detention.
It says no other state is locking up 10 and 11-year-old children at the rate Queensland is.
Queensland is also the only state or territory to incarcerate 17-year-olds in adult jails, and there is a gross over-representation of indigenous children in detention, Amnesty says.
The group cites grave concerns about the use of dogs to control young detainees, the alleged overuse of restraints and solitary confinement, and partial strip searches.
"There was around about 1000 pages of examples of abuse, that ranged from the use of dogs, use of restraints. We found examples were young kids ... are being handcuffed while they are playing basketball," Amnesty's Australian director Claire Mallinson has told the ABC.
"We're so concerned. We could be in breach of the (UN) convention against torture."
Ms Mallinson said Queensland could also be beaching the UN convention on the rights of the child.
The group has reviewed more than 1000 pages, detailing concerning incidents at Townsville's Cleveland Youth Detention Centre and the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre between 2010 to 2015.
It says that on an average day last year, 89 per cent of children at the Townsville centre were indigenous.
Amnesty cites frequent attempts at self harm or suicide, particularly at the Townsville facility, and says eight indigenous children were held in isolation for 10 days "in near-continuous cell confinement - approximately 22 hours a day".
It also raises concerns about partial strip-searches, with young girls asked to lift their breasts and young boys to lift their genitals prior to squatting - despite practices of squatting and lifting being prohibited in adult prisons.
The Queensland government has already ordered a comprehensive review of the state's juvenile justice system, and has said some of the concerns Amnesty raises have already been addressed, including the use of dogs and invasive searches.
It says it has a policy to remove 17-year-olds from adult jails and has promised to nominate a time frame to do that but has also noted problems with housing 17-year-olds, often accused of serious crimes, alongside younger detainees.