Attack dogs used to control kids

Attack dogs used to enforce control, solitary confinement, non-consensual medical procedures: Abu Ghraib? Not quite, rather the NSW juvenile justice system.

On Tuesday the NSW Parliament passed the Children (Detention Centres) Amendment Bill, which enacts significant changes to the treatment of young people in detention.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) expresses its deep concern at the new provisions which, amongst other things, allows children to be segregated for an ‘indefinite period of time’ and to be held in isolation as punishment for anywhere between twelve and 24 hours.

Of particular concern is that the new legislation sanctions the use of ‘attack dogs’ on children in detention and allows for medical treatment without consent under certain circumstances.

Clearly such provisions will impact adversely vulnerable categories of children, including those who are Indigenous, those with mental illness and those with intellectual disability.

This new legislation is clearly a breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international children’s rights standards, which require that treatment of young offenders promotes a child’s sense of dignity and worth and takes into account their specific circumstances, for example, age and cultural background.

Robin Banks, Chief Executive Officer of PIAC said today,

It is difficult to see why the NSW Government sought to pass legislation that effectively sanctions extended periods of isolation and segregation of juvenile offenders. Such provisions are likely to lead to further breaches of human rights that may be the subject of civil action in domestic courts, or complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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