Friday, June 11, 2021

Mother Takes Fight Against Indigenous Deaths in Custody to the UN

Australia’s justice system must have been found wanting because a mother (above) and a team of high-profile lawyers have filed a complaint over her son's death in custody to the UN Human Rights Commission. 

Advocates say it is one of the first cases of an Indigenous death in custody in Australia to be brought to the United Nations. 

Indigenous man David Dungay Jr died after being restrained by five prison officers in a Sydney prison in 2015. In fact, a video later shown at the 26-year-old’s inquest had captured his final moments: his labored breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. "I can't breathe", he yelled repeatedly, before losing consciousness. 

FYI, none of the guards faced disciplinary action. 

"The government and the prison had a duty of care to keep David safe, with people who were trained properly to keep him alive. The system failed, and David lost his life because of that failure", the mother had maintained. "My son had a right to live". 

The legal team is also seeking to put pressure on the government over their record on Indigenous deaths in custody. [Note: I  had blogged about this very issue in my June 08, 2020 post titled "#GeorgeFloyd: A Timely Reminder for Aussies"]. 

You may or may not know but aboriginal people have the highest rate of incarceration of any group in the world. Since 1991, at least 474 Indigenous people have died in custody. 

While Aboriginal people don't die at a greater rate than non-Aboriginal Australians in custody, they are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. 

And governments do have a responsibility to hold people accountable when they take a life. 

Leetona Dungay, the complainant is right when she said: "That's why we need to go to the international stage to seek justice – to shame our government into action, to expose systemic racism that runs throughout the justice system. Black lives do matter".

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