MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 19) - Australia's Commonwealth Ombudsman has agreed to investigate the treatment of detainees at the Port Hedland Detention Center in Western Australia after a riot there two weeks ago.

The investigation comes at the request of the incoming Labor Party President Carmen Lawrence.

Lawrence released a statement alleging guards had beaten a 14-year -old boy and used a cattle prod on another boy.

She also claimed many of the detainees sustained serious injuries, including broken limbs.

The Immigration Department has denied the allegations.

But Lawrence says she is pleased the Commonwealth ombudsman has agreed to investigate the claims.

"If there has been any abuse; if there has been any violence against the detainees and the records haven't been destroyed, then that should be evident," she said. "If there hasn't, then I’ll be amongst those who'll be very pleased."

She says the ombudsman has urged detainees who've alleged the violence to refer their claims to police.

December 19, 2003

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra


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