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Brian Martin steps down as head of child abuse inquiry


The head of an Australian inquiry into the abuse of children in detention has resigned four days after he was appointed to the position.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered the probe, to be headed by Martin last week, after prison CCTV footage showed guards teargassing six aboriginal teenage inmates and strapping a half-naked, hooded boy to a chair at a Darwin youth prison in the Northern Territory.

Since the footage was broadcast last week, protests have been held across Australia.

Aboriginal leaders said they would not cooperate with the inquiry unless they were represented on the commission conducting the probe.

“I’m not the only person who can conduct this Commission effectively and competently and it is critical that whoever is appointed has the confidence of those who are vitally concerned with this matter,” Martin said.

The Royal Commission will now be conducted by two commissioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and retired Supreme Court judge Margaret White, the Reuters news agency cited Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis as saying on Monday.

Aborigines comprise just three percent of Australia’s population but make up 27 percent of those in prison and 94 percent of juvenile inmates in the Northern Territory.

The UN Human Rights High Commission (UNHCR) has since called on Australia to compensate the victims of the abuse.