NT royal commission is the cost of failing to meet international standards on torture

The Conversation, 6 September 2016
Author: Adam Fletcher
“The ABC’s 7.30 program recently confirmed that harsh, and possibly illegal, treatment of young detainees in Australia is not confined to the Northern Territory when it broadcast images of alleged abuse in a centre in Townsville. Evidence of inappropriate treatment from a centre in Tasmania has also come to light.”
Find article here.

Australia’s torture of asylum seekers

BMJ 2016;354:i4606
Author: David Berger
“The Guardian newspaper’s publication of 8000 leaked pages alleging horrendous abuse and appalling conditions for detainees at Australia’s immigration detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru has again brought Australia’s treatment of indefinitely imprisoned asylum seekers into sharp public focus. The so-called Nauru files, published on 10 August, describe alleged assaults, sexual abuse, self harm attempts, and child abuse. The Guardian’s analysis showed 51.3% of the 2116 reports involve children, although children were only about 18% of those in detention at the time.”
Find abstract here.

More than third of sexual assaults, homicides linked to domestic violence, ABS data shows

ABC News online 13 July 2016
Author: Dan Oakes
“More than a third of sexual assaults and homicides recorded in Australia last year were domestic violence-related, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  The 2015 crime statistics also show that there were 21,380 victims of sexual assault across the country, a rise of 3 per cent on the previous year, and a six year high.”
Find article here and ABS report here.

New strategies to end violence against children

World Health Organisation, statement 12 July 2016
“WHO and partners today launch 7 interlinked strategies to reduce violence against children. The approaches have all been tested and all have shown concrete results. By bringing them together, WHO hopes to dramatically reduce instances of violence against children. Over the past year, up to 1 billion children have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence, according to a recent study published in “Pediatrics”. Homicide is among the top 5 causes of death for adolescents. 1 in 4 children suffer physical abuse, and nearly 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused at least once in their lives.”
Find statement and further information here.

Is Australia engaged in torturing asylum seekers? A cautionary tale for Europe

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103326
Authors: John-Paul Sanggaran, Deborah Zion
“Australian immigration detention has been identified as perpetuating ongoing human rights violations. Concern has been heightened by the assessment of clinicians involved and by the United Nations that this treatment may in fact constitute torture. We discuss the allegations of torture within immigration detention, and the reasons why healthcare providers have an ethical duty to report them. Finally, we will discuss the protective power of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a means of providing transparency and ethical guidance.”
Find abstract here.

The Shadow Doctors

The New Yorker, June 27 2016 issue
Author: Ben Taub
“In the past five years, the Syrian government has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical care in war zones. (Non-state actors, including ISIS, have killed twenty-seven.) …Thousands of physicians once worked in Aleppo, formerly Syria’s most populous city, but the assault has resulted in an exodus of ninety-five per cent of them to neighboring countries and to Europe. Across Syria, millions of civilians have no access to care for chronic illnesses, and the health ministry routinely prevents U.N. convoys from delivering medicines and surgical supplies to besieged areas. …Despite the onslaught, doctors and international N.G.O.s have forged an elaborate network of underground hospitals throughout Syria.”
Find article here.

American Medical Association Declares Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis

TIME, 14 June 2016
Author: Alexandra Sifferlin
“The American Medical Association (AMA) announced on Tuesday that the organization has adopted a policy that calls gun violence a public health crisis and plans lobby Congress to overturn laws that prevent the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from studying gun violence.”
Find article here.

The Port Arthur massacre and the National Firearms Agreement: 20 years on, what are the lessons?

MJA, online first 23 May 2016
Authors: Michael J Dudley, Alan Rosen, Philip A Alpers and Rebecca Peters
“The 20th anniversary of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) offers lessons for mental health and public health. Along with similar international legislation, the NFA exemplifies how firearms regulation can prevent firearm mortality and injuries….A modest but significant link exists between mental disorders and community violence. However, the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent. Despite media portrayals of their dangerousness, they are more likely to be victims of violence and of suicide. …Screening mentally ill populations for violence risk is misguided. However, clinicians can play a key role in working with legal authorities to monitor and assist regulation of firearm access, especially among high risk populations.”
Find full article here.

Prosecution of US psychologists who ran CIA torture program moves a step closer

BMJ 2016;353:i2454
Author: Owen Dyer
“Two psychologists who designed and managed the now defunct torture program of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may be sued by their victims after a federal judge a allowed the case to move forward. James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen—former employees of the US Air Force Survival School—conducted dozens of torture sessions. The company they formed, Mitchell Jessen and Associates, hired and deployed 60 private interrogators and received over $81 million in payments from the US government.1 The incoming Obama administration ended their contract in 2009.”
Find extract here.