Friday, December 19, 2003

Ombudsman launches Port Hedland riot inquiry

The Commonwealth ombudsman has agreed to investigate the treatment of detainees at the Port Hedland detention centre, after a riot there this month.

The investigation comes at the request of the incoming Labor party president, Carmen Lawrence. Soon after the riot at the Western Australian detention centre about two weeks ago, Dr Lawrence released a statement alleging guards had beaten a 14-year-old boy and used a cattle prod on another.

She also claimed many of the detainees sustained serious injuries including broken limbs.

The Immigration Department has strongly denied the allegations.

Dr Lawrence says she is pleased the Commonwealth ombudsman has agreed to investigate the claims.

"If there's been any abuse, if there's been any violence against the detainees and the records haven't been destroyed, then that should be evident," she said. "If there hasn't, I'll be amongst those who'll be very pleased to say that the allegations were incorrect." She says the ombudsman has urged detainees who have alleged the violence to refer their claims to police.

By Just Us 19 December 03


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