Ill-treatment against Aboriginal minors in Australian prisons / Ratko Mladic given life sentence

17 to 23 November

An "Australia's shame" screenshot, where mistreatments were reported.
An "Australia's shame" screenshot, where mistreatments were reported.
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. A government report has concluded that juvenile detention centres in Australia’s Northern Territory are home to serious abuse against prisoners, many of whom are Aboriginals. This week we are also highlighting a life imprisonment sentence over genocide and crimes against humanity against Bosnian Serb military officer Ratko Mladic. In Somaliland, the newly elected president will seek to advance the country’s international recognition, while in Ireland Gerry Adams is stepping down from Sinn Féin leadership.


Australia admits serious abuses against jailed underage Aboriginals. A Royal Commission charged with investigating juvenile prisons in the Northern Territory has concluded that minors are subject to “verbal abuse, physical control and humiliation, including being denied access to basic human needs such as water, food and the use of toilets.” Minors were encouraged to fight each other —sometimes bribed for doing so— and were kept in “punitive” isolation, which is “very likely” to leave them “lasting psychological damage.” The report also denounces that reintegration and social welfare programs have not been properly implemented in the detention centres. The Royal Commission finally recommends closing one of the centres (Don Dale) and implementing wide reforms throughout the system.

The Australian Parliament ordered the Commission be formed last year, immediately after a television program uncovered ill-treatment. The program, under the significant name “Australia’s Shame,” reported: “It almost defies belief but right here in Australia there is a prison system that locks up 10 year olds and places children as young as thirteen in solitary confinement.”

Reported abuses “mostly affect Aboriginal people,” the Commission’s investigation says. 30% of Northern Territory population is Aboriginal, by far the highest proportion of any Australian state or territory. The Northern Territory has the highest youth detention ratio in the whole country. Most detained youths are male Aboriginals.

To help solve the situation, the Commission recommends that federal and Northern Territory governments include the Aboriginal peoples in decision-making processes and listen to their ideas.


New Somaliland president to seek country’s recognition.Muse Bihi Abdi has been elected as the country’s new president, with 55% of the votes cast. Bihi Abdi is Somaliland’s former Interior minister and current leader of ruling Kulmiye Party. Main opposition candidate Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi (Waddani Party) has won 40.7% of the votes. Abdullahi has reported “irregularities”, but the Central Election Commission says the vote was fair and clean. A UK government-funded international observer mission agrees that problems have been detected, but not “at a scale that would undermine the integrity of the electoral process.” Foreign validation of the elections is important for Somaliland authorities, as the country has not yet been recognized by any other state despite the fact that it has been de facto independent from Somalia since 1990. All presidential candidates had promised that recognition would be one of the pillars of their policy.

Ratko Mladic’s life imprisonment over genocide. Commander and top leader of the Bosnian Serb army during the Bosnian war (1991-1995) has beengiven a life sentence by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The court has found Mladic, 75, guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws of war. His conviction has been welcomed in Sarajevo but not in Srpska capital Banka Luka, where Bosnian Serb president Milorad Dodik has called Mladic “a legend of the Serbian people.”

Gerry Adams to step down asSinn Féin chief in 2018. Party leader has announced his decision at Sinn Féin’s annual assembly. Adams has highlighted the fact that “Republicanism has never been stronger”, as Sinn Féin is now Northern Ireland’s second largest and the Republic’s third largest party. Sinn Féin has also approved a proposal that allows it, when appropriate time comes, to join the Irish government as junior partner. The party had so far maintained it would only join a cabinet if it were to lead it.