Statement on High Court ruling of unlawful use of force

All comments to be attributed to Law Council of Australia President, Ms Pauline Wright.

The High Court’s decision that the deliberate and intentional deployment of tear gas on four teenagers by prison officers in Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was unlawful, is a timely reminder that the use of force on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will not be tolerated in Australia.

The High Court’s unanimous ruling in the case of Binsaris v Northern Territory [2020] HCA 22, overturns earlier decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of the Northern Territory, and finds that the use of tear gas is not allowed under the Youth Justice Act (NT).

The judgment of the High Court lends support to the recommendation of the 2017 Royal Commission into the Northern Territory’s youth justice system, that tear gas should be prohibited in juvenile detention centres.

There is a national tragedy on our own doorstep which cannot be ignored.

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