We must take steps to end Aboriginal deaths in custody
Graphic: Aboriginal flag represented as jigsaw pieces
A total of 432 Indigenous people have died in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Commission noted.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has expressed its shock and sadness at the death in custody of George Floyd in the United States.
In a statement, the Commission said the global focus on the issue of policing should remind Australians of the unacceptably high rates of incarceration and deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A total of 432 Indigenous people have died in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
First Australians are the most incarcerated people on the planet, making up just three percent of the Australian population but 28 per cent of our prison population, said Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.
"As we watch with concern at the developments in the United States, we should reflect on the task that remains at hand in Australia and undertake the long overdue reforms to our own justice system," Commissioner Oscar said.
"For almost 30 years we have referred to the Royal Commission and its recommendations, many that remain unimplemented. Meanwhile, Indigenous people continue to die in our so-called justice system."
The Commission calls for the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission's 2018 report, Pathways to Justice, to be fully implemented.
The Commission also calls for all jurisdictions to implement wide-spread strategies and reforms to the justice system, including:
- Establishing independent complaints and investigation mechanisms for police misconduct and use of force
- Ensuring appropriate monitoring of places of detention, in line with the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), including monitoring of police holding cells, transport and detention facilities
- Working with Indigenous peoples to develop justice reinvestment programs.
"Robust, independent oversight and monitoring is critical to ensure accountability and public trust in the police and justice systems," said Commissioner Oscar.
"The approach taken by governments to address the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in our justice system stands in stark contrast with the partnership approach and commitments made to closing the gap on health, education and employment.
Date: 4 June 2020
- Aboriginal flag represented as jigsaw pieces - Michael Coghlan, Flickr CC; http://bit.ly/28VM6tM