Eight-year-old boy handcuffed as ‘joke’ in Nauru

Report released on Wilson Security guards’ handcuffing boy as 'joke' in detention centre

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Australia placed some asylum seekers on Nauru

Four guards from Wilson Security, an Australian company that provides security for the Nauru detention centre, handcuffed an eight-year-old asylum seeking boy using a cable tie as a "joke." 

Wilson’s bosses said in a Senate inquiry that the use of restraints was unusual treatment, unless a situation grew out of hand.

The Wilson Security incident report that was filed in 2013 by a employee of Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation, explained that the boy was in the recreation tent area of the family camp on the Pacific island of Nauru as the guards handcuffed his hands with a black cable tie.

The report reads, “four Wilson CSOs [Client Services Officers] tied [the boy’s] hands together using a black cable tie.”

The guards cut his ties and set the boy free, after a Save the Children worker demanded them to leave him.

“STC [Save the Children] worker noticed and walked over to the group. Worker was informed ‘It’s just a joke, maybe now he’ll stop fighting.’ All four CSOs were smiling. [The boy] did not appear to be immediately distressed,” the report says.

The boy has reportedly suffered serious trauma and has some behavioural problems, like fighting with other children at school.

Save the Children described the boy as a "vulnerable minor."

The security contracts manager of the company, Brett McDonald, told the Senate that it was unusual for security to restrain a detainee using flexicuffs. It could happen only "on a very rare occassion."

“To get to a point where you restrain somebody you would go through a level of escalation first,” said McDonald, adding that the detainee would be restrained normally for a short time.

After recent allegations about Wilson Security that they tied detainees with cables to bed frames that were later lifted and dropped to the ground, the bosses of the company started to search the differences between cable ties and flexicuffs, which are similar to plastic handcuffs.

McDonald and Wilson Security’s executive general manager, John Rogers, said in the Senate inquiry that the employees did not use cable ties except for fencing at the centre. As he was asked about restraints, Donald accepted that they use flexicuffs and not cable ties.

Inquiry chair Senator Alex Gallacher conducted an internet search for flexicuffs to McDonald and Rogers.

“In the description it says, ‘a traditional form of plastic handcuffs are cable ties.’ Then it gives you a photo. They are basically cable ties,” he said.

The Wilson Security company has been in contact with the Senate committee for a plead. The committee is to prepare a report next week, on the allegations of abuse in the Nauru detention centre.

The inquiry drew attention and received 100 submissions. Former Nauru staff has alleged widespread abuse, such as sexual assaults, physical abuse, medical neglect and spying.  

While the boy was in the detention centre in Nauru, he was also reported to have been a victim of a sexual assault, but evidence given by top Wilson employees is contrary to the claims.

TRTWorld and agencies