Sunday, July 18, 2010

"state authorisation of institutionalised child abuse"

Oliver Twist (image credit) is alive and well and living in juvenile justice centers in the UK! The title of my post is taken from this morning's Guardian article announcing what might be called more torture revelations in the UK: a "brutal guide to punishing jailed youths" has just been disclosed after the parents of two boys who died in a secure training center in 2004 won a freedom of information fight.
Way back in 1982, in a case called Campbell and Cosans, corporal punishment in its schools resulted in the UK's being found guilty of violating the European Convention on Human Right's prohibition on torture and article 2 of Protocol 1. In 1991, the UK ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the government announces on a dedicated website means the UK must respect the rights listed in the convention of all children in the UK. This includes, among other things, providing "special protection for . . . children in the juvenile justice system." But the training and self-defense manual that tells staff how to deal with unruly children as young as 12 tells them to:

■ "Use an inverted knuckle into the trainee's sternum and drive inward and upward."

■ "Continue to carry alternate elbow strikes to the young person's ribs until a release is achieved."

■ "Drive straight fingers into the young person's face, and then quickly drive the straightened fingers of the same hand downwards into the young person's groin area."

Such instructions do come with at least a couple of warnings, such as:
... the techniques risk giving children a "fracture to the skull" and "temporary or permanent blindness caused by rupture to eyeball or detached retina"; or

... the measures could cause asphyxia. One passage, explaining how to administer a head-hold on children, adds that "if breathing is compromised the situation ceases to be a restraint and becomes a medical emergency".

Suddenly, the torture files released a few days ago aren't such a scoop.

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