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Senate backs Greens’ Motion on Deaths in Custody

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 24 Mar 2011

 

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 – Senator Rachel Siewert

20 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

I 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.
i)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).
ii) 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:
i) 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
ii) 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

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