Parklea Prison NSW
From Justice Action...
Congratulations on the hard work Philippe and Mark!
We look forward to publicity about your achievement and the setting up of the inspections. We will assist you in Australia.
On inspections, we are negotiating with government here re a UN Human Rights Committee decision for a 16 year old aboriginal prisoner that his rights were violated.
We look for ongoing community inspections, supportive of the prisoner, rather than depending on professional support that is already here, but was quite useless in this case.
Here is last week’s statement about the situation. We would like discussion on the inspection issue at some stage.
All the best!
The National Children's and Youth Law Centre, together with Justice Action, are leading a campaign for acknowledgement of the mistreatment of Corey Brough, in the NSW prison system, and further, for systemic reform.
Please see attached a press release and coverage by AAP set out below.
Gilbert + Tobin, a Sydney law firm, acts for Corey and on his instructions, made the complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. Gilbert + Tobin is supporting the campaign and remain Corey's representatives. They are not making public comment.
Here is the Committee's decision:
We are looking to expand the advocacy partnerships to include human rights activists, Indigenous activists and mental health activists and to provide further support for the already existing youth and prison reform activists working on this matter.
Some of the issues the campaign will focus on include:
Acknowledgement from Australian and NSW Govt that they have violated Mr Brough's human rights;
Effective and systemic remedies for Mr Brough (and any others that should be identified now and in the future) that include compensation, consideration of early release options, and a post-release suport packages for those whose rights have been violated and their families;
Establishment of a comprehensive and independent review of the system for youth detention;
Creation of an effective justice system within the prison systems that includes independent monitoring, effective access to independent complaints review mechanisms, community-based assistance for prisoners in crisis. Any such systems must prioritise prisoners kept in isolation or segregation;
Creation of effective investigative and reporting powers for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), that are appropriately resourced;
Establishment of management guidelines for human rights compliance with appropriate training and enforcement;
Acknowledgement of the failure to learn from the RCIADIC process and a reaffirmation of a commitment to treat Indigenous people in custody with respect;
The need for a broad community-based strategy for providing support to young offenders, particularly Indigenous offenders (not to be found within the prison systems now);
The need to develop effective mechanisms for addressing domestic human rights issues (connecting international best practice with our own) - requiring a whole of government approach - perhaps we could get this onto the agenda of SCAG or COAG;
Empowering Indigenous communities to address violence and abuse.
We remain open to ideas about other directions/objectives etc.
By Saffron Howden
CANBERRA, May 16 AAP - Australia has violated the rights of a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy kept in isolation without clothes and blankets in a NSW adult prison, the United Nations has found.
Corey Brough, who has a mild intellectual disability, was 16 when he took part in a riot at the Kariong Juvenile Detention Centre in March, 1999.
After the riot, he was transferred to an adult prison, Parklea Correctional Centre, and kept in isolation, given anti-psychotic drugs, and had all his clothing removed.
He was allegedly held in a cell by himself under continuous artificial lighting for up to three days at a time. Within eight days of arriving at the adult prison, Brough had "self-harmed".
Two days later, he allegedly broke a plate and shredded his mattress with a broken fragment and was moved to another cell for 48 hours.
After he tried to obscure the security camera in his cell, all his clothes, except his underwear, were removed by force, along with his pillow and blanket.
In its report, the UN Human Rights Committee says Brough was then allegedly confined to his cell for 72 hours, with the lights on day and night.
Two weeks later, he tried to hang himself with a noose made from his underwear, and that, too, was removed.
He was given anti-psychotic medication, Largactil, but it was unclear whether his condition had been assessed before it was administered.
A GP later prescribed 50mg of Largactil a day until he could be examined by a psychiatrist.
The committee found Australia breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The author's extended confinement to an isolated cell without any possibility of communication - combined with his exposure to artificial light for prolonged periods and the removal of his clothes and blanket - was not commensurate with his status as a juvenile person in a particularly vulnerable position because of his disability and his status as an Aboriginal," the committee said.
"As a consequence, the hardship of the imprisonment was manifestly incompatible with his condition, as demonstrated by his inclination to inflict self-harm and his suicide attempt.
"The committee therefore concludes that the author's treatment violated article 10, paragraphs 1 and 3, of the Covenant."
In its submission to the committee, the Australia government said Brough's isolation was a security precaution that did not constitute solitary confinement.
He was given access to exercise, food and water, and the removal of his clothes and blankets was designed to protect him, it said.
His cell was sufficiently heated, there was no record of continuous lighting of more than 24 hours, and the Largactil was used to control his self-destructive behaviour.
The government says there is no record of Brough being confined for 72 hours at a time.
Brough could have filed complaints within the NSW legal system with the ombudsman, the minister for corrective services, and with the Serious Offenders Review Council, it said.
But the committee said Brough could barely read and write.
"The committee notes the author's uncontested claim that he had not been informed about these, or any other administrative remedies, and that he was barely able to read or write at the time of his segregation at Parklea," it said.
He was entitled to compensation for his ordeal under the covenant and Australia had a responsibility to ensure it did not happen to anyone else, it said.
"The author is entitled to an effective remedy, including adequate compensation."
Brough was convicted in March, 1999 of burglary, assault and causing bodily harm, and sentenced to eight months' imprisonment.
Now 24, he is in prison.
The Australia government, as a signatory to the covenant, is responsible for ensuring that the country's other levels of government uphold the covenant.
A spokeswoman for NSW Justice Minister Tony Kelly said the Department of Corrective Services was reviewing the UN report.