The latest report from the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission shows that Aboriginal deaths in police custody have doubled since 2007, which human rights law firm the National Justice Project says shows the need for urgent reform.
The government data, released yesterday, shows that 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died in police custody over the past year, up from 5 deaths recorded in 2007.
Ashleigh Buckett, Associate Legal Director for the National Justice Project, said that the increased number of tragic deaths in police custody reveals the failing of the Australian government to implement reforms.
“The shameful findings of the latest Productivity Commission report are a direct consequence of the Australian government’s failure over the past 30 years to implement the recommendations of its own Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This problem is getting worse, and there is a pressing need for reform,” she said.
“Accountability is essential to preventing future tragic deaths. There have been over 500 Aboriginal deaths in custody overall since 1991, but only a handful of prosecutions.”
The National Justice Project is representing Leetona Dungay, mother of David Dungay Jr., who was killed in prison custody in 2016. Leetona Dungay has lodged a complaint with the United Nations to demand accountability for David’s death, supported by the National Justice Project, Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research and international human rights barristers Jen Robinson and Geoffery Robertson KC.
Ashleigh Buckett said that the United Nations complaint could provide a route to accountability for Aboriginal deaths in custody.
“Our client, Dunghutti Elder Leetona Dungay, mother of David Dungay Jr, who was killed in Long Bay Correctional Centre, is calling for the UN Human Rights Committee to make clear that the Australian government has an obligation to prosecute those responsible for Aboriginal deaths in custody. The government already has the recommendations to guide its response, the question now is whether it has the will,” she said.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee is expected to hand down its decision on Leetona Dungay’s complaint in 2024.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or email@example.com.