'Disabled prisoners in Australia are at serious risk of sexual and physical violence and are often held in solitary confinement for years, forced to spend 22 hours a day alone in their cells, a Human Rights Watch report says.
The 93-page report, released Tuesday, examined 14 adult prisoners across Western Australia and Queensland. A total of 275 people were interviewed, including 136 current or recently released prisoners with disabilities.
The report found that prisons are failing to "adequately identify people with disabilities" and are "ill-equipped to meet their needs, often lacking the most basic services."
For example, in nine of the prisons examined, inmates with physical disabilities had to either wait for access to a bathroom or be forced to urinate, defecate, or shower in "humiliating conditions."
"Toilets are not accessible," one disabled prisoner told Human Rights Watch (HRW). "I can't get my chair in. I have to pee in a bottle." Another inmate said he has to wear a nappy every day, which has stripped him of his dignity.
The report also addresses the harm posed to disabled prisoners due to overcrowding, as they are often forced to "double up" in cells with other inmates, putting them at risk of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.
Of the prisoners interviewed, 41 said they had been the victim of physical violence, while 32 had been subjected to sexual violence by fellow prisoners or staff.'
Read more: 'Heel, dog, heel': Australia’s disabled inmates share stories of abuse in Human Rights Watch report
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