Urgent call to ban spithoods
[by Aliya Ahmed]
We, the Ban Spit Hoods Collective, are petitioning for the immediate legislative ban on spit hoods in every state and territory following multiple reports of their use across Australia.
The NT News reported shocking new data showing 21 instances of young people being spit hooded by police in 2020-2021, including a 13 year old child. Officers used restraint chairs on six children during this time. The data shows there was a major spike using spit hoods in police watch houses in 2020. In 2019, a 12 year old child was hooded. Almost all children in the Northern Territory youth justice system are Aboriginal, we believe this is systemic racism.
These abuses have continued five years after the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Young People in the Northern Territory recommended that spit hoods and restraint chairs be prohibited. Spit hoods are also used in Western Australia, and are approved for use in other states. Last year the South Australian Parliament became the first Australian jurisdiction to legally ban spit hoods, five years after the death of Wayne Fella Morrison, a 29-year-old Wiradjuri, Kokatha and Wirangu man who lost consciousness and later died following restraint in a spit hood in 2016.
Latoya Aroha Rule, Research Associate at Jumbunna Institute, UTS, #Banspithoods Collective spokesperson, and sibling of Wayne Fella Morrison:
“There is no appropriate or safe way to use a spit hood. Spit hoods pose an unacceptable risk to human life and dignity. Amnesty have found that spit hoods violate the UN Convention Against Torture, yet their use continues on children, especially in the NT today. This has to end - and the only way to secure this is to ban spit hoods by law. We cannot risk another life.”
“The recent ban in South Australia shows bans on spit hoods are possible across all carceral contexts. We call for every state and territory to model that ban and end this practice. Children in the NT, and everyone across the continent, deserve a future free of torture.”
We stand in solidarity with children in youth detention, their families and communities in demanding the Northern Territory Government implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission, including to immediately shut down Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Nationally, we call for all governments to follow the lead of South Australia to ban spit hoods by law in all settings for all people.
We ask people who stand against torture to sign the petition and join us to demand a national ban on spit hoods for all people, in all contexts and of any age today!
Sign on to the national petition here, released today: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/ban-spit-hoods-nationally
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