‘Torture’ at WA juvenile jail denied despite Amnesty International claims



Amnesty International says detainees at Banksia Hill Detention Centre have also been strip-searched, fed through a grill and constantly handcuffed when they are outside their cells. “There can be serious psychological consequences with solitary confinement and we have mental health concerns for these boys,” indigenous rights manager Tammy Solonec told 6PR radio on Tuesday.

Ms Solonec read a letter from one boy, who said the intensive support unit had changed him “in a bad way” Amnesty International claims Banksia Hill detainees are being ‘tortured’. Source: Google Maps

“I’m more institutionalised, I just feel very cold-hearted … I really do feel like this is the last straw for me,” he said. “I need help and I need it fast or I’ll end up doing something stupid.” Ms Solonec said the boy’s mother was concerned he was not being rehabilitated but contained liked an animal.

CPSU/CSA branch secretary Toni Walkington rejected the allegations, adding the intensive support unit set up following a riot in May had provided stability. “There have been no serious assaults, incidents or need for special operations group intervention at the centre (since then),” she said.

Corrective Services Commissioner Tony Hassell also denied the torture allegation but said there would be an examination. He said the unit had two teachers, a psychologist and recreation officers, and detainees had the same access to facilities such as televisions and family visits.

Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan said he had been assured solitary confinement was not happening. “Other issues raised by the Inspector of Custodial Services about the operation of Banksia Hill under the previous Liberal-National government in 2016 are being addressed,” he said.

In a statement the justice department said it “strongly rejected” Amnesty’s claims about “torture or abuse of young people”. CPSU branch secretary Toni Walkington has denied the allegations. Source: AAP

“The facility is subject to a high level of external oversight and the Inspector of Custodial Services can visit at any time. “The department robustly reviews all allegations concerning young people at Banksia Hill and the Amnesty claims are being assessed,” the department said.

Last year, the chief inspector revealed unprecedented levels of self-harm and other problems at the centre, recommending the state government consider repurposing the facility and opening smaller ones.

Opposition spokesman Zak Kirkup accused Mr Logan of “playing politics” and said he had requested a visit to the centre after talking to a detainee’s mother.

“The officers at Banksia Hill do a good job in tough circumstances, but it’s important there is good oversight and management of our prisons to ensure our community has confidence in what is happening,” he said.

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Westren Australia, Juvenile Jail