Australian PM launches inquiry after footage shows children being 'stripped' and 'assaulted' in juvenile detention centres

UNICEF Australia has suggested some of the incidents 'may amount to torture'

australian, prime, minister, juvenile, detention

Screenshot: ABC News

The Australian prime minister has announced a full inquiry will take place following revelations over the mistreatment of children being held in detention in the country's Northern Territory.

An investigation by ABC's Four Corners programme contained what the broadcaster called "graphic footage of prison guards stripping, assaulting and mistreating a teenage boy".

The boy was shown wearing a "spit hood" and being restrained to a chair while he was being detained. 

The teenager had been transferred to the adult prison in Alice Springs on the day the incident took place in 2015, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

He had apparently threatened to hurt himself so he could be taken to hospital.

The use of the hood and restraints was likened to 'Guantanamo Bay' by one barrister.

Other footage from 2014 showed the tear-gassing of six boys who were reportedly attempting to escape the Don Dale youth detention centre near Darwin.

The Northern Territory corrections minister John Elferink has been sacked following the release of the footage, with responsibility for the portfolio being taken over by the territory's chief minister Adam Giles.

In a statement announcing a royal commission to investigate the revelations, the Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "Like all Australians, we were shocked and appalled by the images of mistreatment of children at the detention centre. 

"Every child in our justice system must be treated with humanity and respect at all times [...] This needs to be a thorough inquiry which exposes what occurred and why it remained concealed for so long."

He added that the inquiry will look to identify "systemic failures" at the Don Dale facility.

UNICEF Australia has suggested some examples of the mistreatment of children may amount to torture: