The human rights of detainees in the ISU are being breached
Detailed analysis of out of cell hours for detainees in the ISU demonstrate that, at times, their human rights have been breached. Throughout November 2021, analysis identified several days where three detainees did not receive their minimum out of cell time under both the Department’s SO9a policy and international human rights agreements, such as the Mandela Rules (UNODC, 2015). These findings are consistent with our previous report on out of cell hours in 2018 (OICS, 2018).
Detainees have a poor quality of life in the ISU
Detainees residing in the ISU are living in conditions that do not support physical and mental wellbeing or encourage positive behaviour. Due to staffing shortages, detainees are often locked into their cells for most of the day, preventing meaningful social interaction with peers and staff. Detainees face long periods of alone time in cells that are often in a poor state and are small. This typically leads detainees to act out and increasingly there are more detainees self-harming.
A ‘Show Cause Notice’ was issued
Considering the preliminary findings of this inspection, the Inspector of Custodial Services (the Inspector) formed a reasonable suspicion that:
- There was a serious risk to the care or welfare of detainees held in the ISU at BHDC.
- That detainees were being subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the ISU at BHDC.
It was also noted that many of the same factors affecting service delivery at the centre were similar to those that existed prior to the January 2013 riot (OICS, 2013), and the significant disturbances on 4 and 5 May 2017 (OICS, 2018).
As a result, on 17 December 2021 the Inspector provided a copy of a preliminary draft inspection report to the Department and issued the Director General a ‘Show Cause Notice’ (the Notice) under Section 33A of the Inspector of Custodial Services Act 2003.
The Notice highlighted the Inspector’s concerns and and provided the Department an opportunity to provide a formal response. The Department produced a comprehensive response on 22 December 2021.
Following consideration of the Department’s response the Inspector formally referred the matter to the Minister of Corrective Services. The referral supported the initiatives being implemented by the Department and advised that an appropriate balance between security and welfare ought to be achieved.