The Human Rights Alliance's Response to the Australian Senate and to the Greens:
Senate backs Motion Acknowledging Deaths in Custody: This is not Enough. We have called for a Joint Committee Senate Inquiry into Australian Deaths in Custody.
The Human Rights Alliance, and with apologies, has quickly crafted this Media Release to express our disappointment that our campaign for a call for a Joint Committee Senate Inquiry into Australian Deaths in Custody has been watered down to a Senate Motion acknowledging what we already know. This is attrition.
We urge the Senate to amend or add to the Motion and ensure that a Senate Inquiry is convened.
Below is a release of some remarks, once again quickly crafted, and we apologise however the urgency is imperative, to our 76 Senators regarding the Motion to acknowledge the worsening Aboriginal Deaths in Custody statistics:
It is not enough to merely back a Motion that acknowledges the continuing trends, and their exponential increases, in Aboriginal deaths in custody. This will change nothing. Waiting for the NSW Aboriginal Legal Services Report to state the obvious allows for more to die, to suffer, to be incarcerated (in the meantime).
We need a Senate Inquiry into Australian Deaths in Custody. Those of you consulting me please consider the call for such an Inquiry, and those of you who have not consulted or contacted us and rather than just draw from our campaign, such as Senator Siewert, please do consult and contact us so we meet in the propriety of the campaign and its call. We commend Rachel's acknowledgment however as stated nothing will change, and we note that we need a Joint Committee Inquiry to ensure throughcare from findings to outcomes, to changes and remedies. We note that the Motion does not include mention of the non-Aboriginal folk who die in custody, and who represent 82% of deaths in custody. We note that no mention was made of government verse non-government prisons and the disproportionate rates of deaths in custody, we note that Rachel did not describe the disproportionate statistics from deaths in custody in Western Australia and how they dramatically affect and discriminate against Aboriginal folk. We note that no mention was made of the fact that deaths in prison and police custodial units for the most part are not explored before the criminal justice system and that we may need Independent Inspectorates (Police and Prisons). We note that no remedy was proferred or enmeshed in a process that would eliminate rising Aboriginal deaths in custody. We note that no mention was made that no prima facie case has been considered in Aboriginal deaths in custody, such as in the case of the Warburton Elder, the Palm Island death, other NSW, Queensland and WA deaths, the Redfern death, that would have allowed for the pursuit of justice and hence remedies. Without such exploration remedies will not occur and we will continue to stand in the way of Aboriginal Advancement by Aboriginal Peoples.
Much was neglected and this watered down motion is an insult if it is not furthered expediently pursuant of a Senate Inquiry.
Kindly, Gerry Georgatos, PhD Law Researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody, Convener of The Human Rights Alliance.
The Senate backs the Greens' Motion on Deaths in Custody
The Senate today formally acknowledged that this year marks twenty years since of the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, supporting a motion put by Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues.
Senator Siewert said the Senate has drawn attention to the continuing high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a rate that continues to rise in an alarming fashion.
“Twenty years after the Royal Commission we are still seeing disproportionately high rates of deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Senator Siewert said.
“It is disappointing that the majority of the recommendations of the Royal Commission have not been fully implemented.
“We look forward to the release of the report into the progress in implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission by the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service later in the year, and will continue to work to see the recommendations put into practice.
“Implementing these measures is an essential part of meeting international human rights obligations,” concluded Senator Siewert.
Notice of Motion
20 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Senator Rachel Siewert
I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate:
Notes that the 15th April 2010 will denote 20 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.
Draws attention to increasing and alarmingly high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are 14 times more likely to be incarcerated and represent 26% of our prison population (despite representing less than 3% of our total population).
Between 2000 and 2010 their rate of imprisonment increased from 1,248 to 1,892 prisoners per 100,000 adults, as compared to a change from 130 t0 134 non-Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adults.
Raises concern at continuing disproportionately high rates of deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with 269 deaths in custody since the report in 1991 (that is, nearly one in five of all deaths in custody).
Expresses concern that twenty years later the majority of the recommendations of the Royal Commission have not been fully implemented.
Calls on the Australian Government to:
• Consider the outcomes of current reviews underway into the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, undertake to report on progress and gaps, and map out further action
• Work with the States and Territories to undertake an audit of standards and independent monitoring of places of detention and consider options to promote consistency across jurisdictions
Dear Senators this is only a very small start however it will change nothing once again. We need big steps and hence we need a Senate Inquiry and we do not need for this urgency and warrant for a Senate Inquiry to be watered down down to the Greens' acknowledging the Aboriginal deaths in custody continuing stats. We need what has been called for. I, and the Human Rights Alliance, and the supporting organisations and folk, will continue to call and campaign for a Senate Inquiry.
Gerry Georgatos, The Human Rights Alliance, supported by many organisations, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal folk.
April 15 shall mark 20 years since the release of the Final Report and the 339 recommendations from the 1987-1991 Royal Commission into Australian Deaths in Custody.
"It is not possible that in 2,056 deaths in custody from 1980 to 2008, and the 160 thereabout deaths since 2008, that there could have been no criminality, no criminal negligence, no successful prosecution. This is why we need independent Police and Prison Inspectorates that do not interact with the Police and Prison Services, and thus eliminate imputations, and report directly to State Parliaments."
Gerry Georgatos, PhD (Law) researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE
Working towards a Better Future
We acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians whose ancestral lands we are now part of. We acknowledge and remember the horrific atrocities inflicted upon them. This is and will forever be their land.
Gerry Georgatos - 0430 657 309