“The Aboriginal community is moving to call for a national day of action against Black deaths in custody on Saturday April 10,” Queensland Aboriginal leader and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly on March 19. “We are calling on all state and federal governments across Australia to conduct a national audit of the implementation of the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody.
“Instead of real action, there has been an increase in the rates of Indigenous deaths in custody, and an overall increase in rates of jailing of Aboriginal prisoners, in the 19 years since the royal commission. This is a national disgrace and a tragedy.”
Watson was commenting on proceedings in the reopened inquest into the 2004 death in Palm Island police watch-house of Mulrunji Doomadgee, which he had attended on March 12. The call also follows the death of 18-year-old Aboriginal Sheldon Currie in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre in Brisbane on February 20.
Further controversy has erupted in Queensland recently with the coroner’s inquest into the death of Roy Barnes in the Southport watch-house in February 2008. Evidence was given that police had been caught falsifying watch-house logbooks only hours before Barnes died of a massive brain haemorrhage.
Nevertheless, State Coroner Michael Barnes cleared police of any responsibility for the man’s death on March 18. The coroner did, however, express major concern over the level of medical treatment given to Barnes, who was suffering withdrawal from heroin use, the March 19 Courier-Mail said.
Originally spotted at Green Left Weekly.