Human Rights commissioner concerned at prison review issues

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The ACT Human Rights Commission has expressed concern at the human rights issues documented by the ACT inspector of Correctional Services, in the first “Healthy Prison Review” of the Alexander Maconochie Centre. 

Human Rights commissioner Helen Watchirs.

“We are particularly concerned about the findings regarding ongoing inappropriate accommodation placement; and the lack of equality of opportunity to facilities, programs and services for female detainees at the AMC,” said Dr Helen Watchirs, president and Human Rights commissioner. 

Karen Toohey, discrimination commissioner, Health Services commissioner and commissioner for Disability and Community Services said: “Our submissions highlighted our concerns about the treatment of female detainees at the AMC and it is concerning that many of those issues remain unresolved, creating barriers to female detainees reintegrating in to the ACT community. 

“We reiterate that women at the AMC must be accommodated in appropriate accommodation. We are hopeful that the recently announced construction of an additional 80-bed facility will provide opportunities for this to occur. 

Dr Watchirs said the latest review echoed previous recommendations made by the ACT Human Rights Commission including consideration of the introduction of a needle and syringe program and improved strip searching practices.

“We also welcome the more positive findings in the review, including the benefits of the ACT government’s ‘Building Communities not Prisons’ initiative,” she said  

“The inspector’s recommendations regarding improved access to health services and programs address a range of issues impacting on detainees’ safety and prospects for rehabilitation. 

“The Commission encourages the ACT government to accept the recommendations of the review and continue to work constructively with all oversight agencies on its implementation.  

“The review contains several recommendations that the commission conduct further work, including reviewing dental services and the treatment of Muslim detainees. Planning for this work has commenced.”  


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