SYDNEY, July 26 (Reuters) - The Australian Prime Minister on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the treatment of children in detention after the airing of video showing prison guards teargassing teenage inmates and strapping a half-naked, hooded-boy to a chair.
Footage of the abuse of six aboriginal boys in a juvenile detention center sparked renewed criticism of Australia's treatment of Aborigines and their high imprisonment rate.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) aired CCTV footage late Monday of boys in a Northern Territory juvenile detention center also being stripped naked, thrown by the neck into a cell, and held for long periods in solitary confinement.
"Like all Australians, I've been deeply shocked - shocked and appalled by the images of mistreatment of children," Turnbull said on ABC radio as he announced a Royal Commission, Australia's most powerful, state sanctioned inquiry.
The CCTV footage from the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin was shot between 2010-2014. A lawyer representing two of the boys said all six boys abused were of aboriginal descent. Aborigines make up the majority of the Northern Territory population and 94 percent of juvenile inmates in the territory.
Reality of incarceration in the U.S.:
Reality of incarceration in the U.S.
Reality of incarceration in the U.S.
In this Aug. 31, 2015 photo, a room used for recreation by inmates in solitary confinement at the Washington Corrections Center, in Shelton, Wash. is shown. A new program that may soon be extended to dozens of maximum custody solitary confinement prisoners at the facility will give inmates the option of using their recreation hour outside of their cells to watch sunsets, mountains and underwater seascapes on video, with the hope that they will be calmer, and guards will have to deal with fewer outbursts or violent interactions. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
FILE -- In this July 24, 2014 file photo, an inmate is seen in one of the cells at the mental health unit at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Stockton Health Facility in Stockton, Calif. In an agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Friday, Aug. 29, state corrections official have agreed to shift mentally ill inmates into specialized housing units instead of placing them in the same isolation units as are used for other inmates, Friday, Aug. 29.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)
Harris County inmate Kristi Leonard leans against a telephone in her cell block Tuesday, June 4, 2013, in Houston. Arrested numerous times for prostitution, Leonard is part of a rehabilitation program called We've Been There Done That. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
An inmate stares out a window at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif., Friday, March 2, 2012. California prisons marked a milestone Friday when California prison officials announced they have removed the last of nearly 20,000 extra beds that had been jammed into gymnasium and other common areas to house inmates who overflowed traditional prison cells.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 11: Undocumented immigrant Jose Reyes Robledo, 42, Mexico poses for a portrait as he serves time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. He said he has lived in Phoenix and previously San Diego as an undocumented immigrant for 20 years. He is married with three children and was born in the United States. He was arrested and charged in Maricopa County on July, 2012 for armed robbery with a deadly weapon. As an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record, he may likely be deported to Mexico after serving his jail sentence. President Barack Obama's administration deported a record 1.5 million people during his first term of office with 55 percent of deportees in 2012 having a criminal conviction for drug offenses or driving under the influence, according to U.S. immigration officials. The Maricopa County Tent City jail, run by county Sheriff Joe Arpaio, maintains a controversial policy of issuing striped uniforms and pink undergarments to inmates, despite an ongoing court challenge. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A cell in an enhanced supervision housing unit on Rikers Island in New York, Thursday, March 12, 2015. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a comprehensive plan to curb jail violence after a visit to the problem-plagued Rikers Island jail complex. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, inmate Jesse Cole is shown on a television screen as his wife Edna wipes away a tear while sitting with their sons, William, 4, center, and 8-month-old Jesse James, during a video visitation with at the Fort Bend County Jail, in Richmond, Texas. Prisonersâ rights advocates are worried that the growing use in the U.S. of video technology to facilitate visits between inmates and their family and friends at county jails and prisons is part of a trend to eliminate the more traditional in-person visit. But officials who run these facilities say video visitation has been a boon to their efforts to improve security and increase visiting hours. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
An inmate uses the recreation room of one of the housing units at Sacramento County's Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove, Calif., Thursday, May 30, 2013. A report by the California Little Hoover Commission says Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment plan is forcing county sheriff's rather than judges, to decide which inmates get released early from jail and which serve their full sentences.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
An inmate does pushups on the floor of his cell at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says he plans to implement all the reforms suggested by a commission in the wake of allegations that a culture of violence flourished in his jails. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
AP10ThingsToSee - In this June 26, 2014 photo, a U.S. veteran with post-traumatic stress, sits in a segregated holding pen at Chicago's Cook County Jail after he was arrested on a narcotics charge. The complex, with more than 10,600 inmates, is one of the country's largest single-site jails. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A Homeland Security Officer(L) talks with detainees inside Homeland Security's Willacy Detention Center, a facility with 10 giant tents that can house up to 2000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 May 2007 in Raymondville, Texas. The 65 million USD facility was constructed as part of the Secure Border Initative last July and now where many of the former 'catch and release' illegals are detained for processing. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Oct. 15, 2014, an inmate lies across a bunk in the psychiatric unit of the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma, Wash. Some of Washingtonâs mentally ill are strapped to gurneys in emergency rooms awaiting beds in psychiatric hospitals, while others sit in jail for months waiting for competency evaluations and treatment, with some getting trapped in both broken systems And receiving no treatment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A prisoner behind bars and thick plastic looks over at a corrections officer in an enhanced supervision housing unit on Rikers Island in New York, Thursday, March 12, 2015. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a comprehensive plan to curb jail violence after a visit to the problem-plagued Rikers Island jail complex. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Correctional officer Ken Kleinworth frisks an inmate leaving a dining hall at the Washington Corrections Center, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, in Shelton, Wash. The population of Washington state prison inmates has become whiter, older and more violent in the past decade, an Associated Press review of Department of Corrections records has found. And while running the prison system eats up 5 percent of the state budget, there appear to be few places that can be cut without having to resort to releasing inmates early, as some states have done to balance the budget. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2012, file photo, a man waits to be processed at a Border Patrol detention center in Imperial Beach, Calif. The U.S. Border Patrol's parent agency on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, issued nationwide custody standards, a little more than a year after its jails were overwhelmed with Central American children fleeing to the United States. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
FILE- In this 2010 file photo, an inmate reads a book in his bunk at the John Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, Okla. Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins declined to speculate on why Oklahomaâs prison homicide rate is so high, but those who work inside Oklahomaâs prisons say the reason is simple: the facilities are overcrowded and understaffed. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2014 file photo, an inmate at Rikers Island juvenile detention facility carries a plastic fork behind his back as he walks with other inmates in single file to the jail's chapel for a visit from Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and entertainer L.L. Cool J. The city's juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to "rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force," federal prosecutors said in a scathing report released Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE -- In this photo taken Oct. 15, 2014, an inmate huddles under a heavy blanket on a bunk in the psychiatric unit of the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma, Wash. Washington On Thursday, March 12, 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill to set a 14-day limit on the amount of time a mentally ill person can be held in jail awaiting competency evaluations or treatment. The new law comes ahead of a federal trial that aims to end the competency wait lists. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
An inmate sits on his bed in the geriatric unit during a media tour Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Draper, Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he's opposed to the idea of allowing a state commission to pick a location to build a new prison instead of leaving the decision with the Legislature. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
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"Our (indigenous) people have known about things like this...and to just see it laid bare in front of us last night must be a wake-up call to everyone in Australia - that something's got to be done about the way we lock our people up in this country, and particularly the way we lock our kids up," an emotional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda told reporters.
"What we saw last night is an absolute disgrace."
A report into some of the incidents by the Northern Territory Children's Commissioner in 2015 found fault with the guards' behavior, but the findings were disputed by the then head of prisons and not acted upon, said the ABC.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles sacked his corrections minister within hours of the broadcast and said that information about the abuse had been withheld from him, blaming a "culture of cover-up" within the Corrections system.
Some Aborigines in the territory called for Giles to be removed, with one wearing a hood over their head with the words "Sack Giles." A coalition of Northern Territory Aboriginal organizations called for the national government to dissolve the territory government, which it has the authority to do.
"Any government that enacts policies designed to harm children and enables a culture of brutalization and cover-ups, surrenders its right to govern," said spokesman John Paterson.
Residents in Alice Springs staged a peaceful protest against the abuse of children in detention, while the ABC reported that at least eight people were protesting on the roof of a prison in the town. Reuters could not confirm the prison protest.
BOY SHACKLED TO CHAIR
The CCTV video showed guards mocking inmates, carrying a boy by the neck and throwing him onto a mattress in a cell, and covering a teenager's head with a hood and shackling him to a chair with neck, arm, leg and foot restraints.
"Excessive use of force, isolation and shackling of children is barbaric and inhumane," said Human Rights Watch Australia Director Elaine Pearson.
The ABC reported that only two detention staff members identified in footage remained within the youth justice system.
Lawyer Peter O'Brien, who represents Dylan Voller and Jake Roper who were abused, said he was suing the state on their behalf, alleging assault, battery and false imprisonment.
"It seems as if this abuse is built into the very core of the system," he said in a statement, calling for the immediate release of Voller, who is now in an adult prison, and all children imprisoned in the Northern Territory.
Australia's Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs, who backed the inquiry, said: "We have been reporting on this question of indigenous incarceration, particularly of juveniles, for many, many years and we have had many, many reports...on the appalling conditions in which they are held."
Aborigines comprise just three percent of Australia's population but make up 27 percent of those in prison. (Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Jane Wardell and Michael Perry)
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NTP: Life in prison: A look at becoming an inmate
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Prisoners stand while being processed for intake at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. They arrive by the busload each Tuesday and Thursday, dozens of new inmates entering Georgiaâs prison system. Most stay only a week or two. But for those sentenced to die, this is their last stop. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Frederick Harris, right, cuts the hair of Josh Harris, no relation, as he is processed for intake at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. When inmates arrive, their possessions are inventoried. Then they shower and don white jumpsuits. They sit in barber chairs while permanent inmates give them close haircuts, then pose for an ID photo. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A motivational poster hangs on the wall as prisoners stand at attention while being processed for intake at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. The prison, the stateâs biggest, houses about 2,100 male inmates on a wooded, 900-acre campus about 50 miles south of Atlanta. A warden and three deputy wardens oversee more than 600 employees. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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An inmate takes a GED exam at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. While many in high-max wonât ever be free, some will eventually get out. The GED program aims to help a relatively small number of inmates who will eventually get out be better prepared for release. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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A calendar hangs inside a prisoner's cell on death row at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. On the day of the execution, the condemned inmate can receive visitors until about 3 p.m., when heâs given a medical checkup and then brought to a holding cell near the execution chamber around 5 p.m. Heâs given his final meal and has an opportunity to record a final statement. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Sgt. Andrew Archie walks through death row at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Ga. The 76 death row inmates live in four âpodsâ of neatly kept single-inmate cells measuring just 6Â½ by 9 feet and feature a bed, sink, toilet and shelves. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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