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Indigenous People

Indigenous People

Deaths in Custody

Death in Custody is the ultimate failure in the duty of care that is incumbent upon police and corrective services.

Context:
Justice Action does not per se maintain a facilitator with specific responsibilities for Deaths in Custody-related issues. Rather, we recognise all deaths in custody, under any circumstance, as the ultimate failure in the duty of care that is incumbent upon police and corrective services to fulfill. The immediacy of response required when a death in custody occurs is a JA group responsibility.



We work in close alliance particularly with the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of New South Wales. Despite the clear mandate of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the investment of hundreds of millions of government dollars, the deaths continue uninterrupted.

The sharp increase in the numbers of Aboriginal deaths in custody indicates that the recommendations of the Royal Commission are not being properly implemented and continues to reflect the grossly disproportionate representation of indigenous peoples within the criminal justice system.

Five such deaths occurred in Ausralia during the first month of 1997. Four took place in New South Wales; three involved the police and two, the prisons.

Justice Action is currently pursuing numerous death in custody cases.

21 April 1997


Definition:
Recommendation 41 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody defines a death in custody as follows:

(i) the death wherever occurring of a person who is in prison custodyor police custody or detention as a juvenile;
(ii) the death wherever occurring of a person whose death is caused or contributed to by traumatic injuries sustained, or by lack of proper care whilst in such custody or detention;
(iii) the death wherever occurring of a person who dies or is fatally injured in the process of police or prison officers attempting to detain that person; and
(iv) the death wherever occurring of a person who dies or is fatally injured in the process of that person escaping or attempting to escape from prison custody or police custody or juvenile detention.

 

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1980 – 1995)

Warning: Readers should note that there is mention of Aboriginal persons who are deceased. JA strives to observe cultural necessities, particularly in naming their ‘living names’.  We offer only respect for the deceased person and his/her family.
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Watch Committee

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee is an Indigenous community organisation monitoring the treatment of Aboriginal people in police and justice custody. A main focus of the Watch Committee is to monitor any deaths in custody, including police pursuits, and any breaches of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Recommendations.
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Statistics for Deaths in Custody

2006 Prisoner Statistics
2005 Prisoner Statistics

Corey Brough

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Corey Brough, an adolescent Aboriginal man with a mild intellectual disability, has been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the New South Wales prison officials whilst being detained at Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney. The Australian Government, a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has refused to acknowledge the Committee's decision and are currently ignoring calls for an effective remedy for this vulnerable individual.

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Beyond Bars - Nº8

 

Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice System
There are many Indigenous people in prison in NSW. This fact sheet provides some basic information about why Aboriginal people are imprisoned at such high rates in NSW, and looks also at what this means for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

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Health in Australia's Prison Population

 

By Susan Allan, 12 June 2006

During the past weeks, since Alice Springs Crown Prosecutor, Nannette Rogers, made allegations on national television about widespread child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, Australian politicians and the media have stepped up demands for repressive measures against Aboriginal people.

At the centre of the campaign has been federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough. Last week, after claiming rampant lawlessness in many Aboriginal communities, Brough insisted that before the government would consider spending money on Aboriginal health and education, 'law and order' would have to be established and violent offenders jailed.

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Kooris and the Legal System: Review of the Royal Commission Inquiry

 

An End of Decade View of the Royal Commission Recommendations into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody April 1991/April 2001  

In late 1987 the Hawke Government finally relented and called for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 124 deaths were presented to the Commissioners but they only investigated 99 which occurred between 1980 - 1989. Not one police, custodial or jail officer was found guilty of any substantial wrongdoing.

During April 1991, the Commissioners handed down their collective wisdom in the form of 339 Recommendations. Roughly half of these dealt with the so-called justice system for Indigenous people. These Recommendations were mainly intended to keep Aboriginal people out of jail and stressed the need for prisons as a last resort. They were aimed at bringing about change relating to the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with the police, courts and jails. With what success?

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UN Condemns Australian Prisons

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Corey Brough, an adolescent Aboriginal man with a mild intellectual disability, has been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the New South Wales prison officials whilst being detained at Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney.

The Australian government, a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has refused to acknowledge the Committee's decision and are currently ignoring calls for an effective remedy.

Read more

 

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