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Time for Federal Parliament to act on the death of Mr. Ward

14th October 2009

"Time for Federal Parliament to act on the death of Mr Ward"

On Monday 19th October 2009, at 4:00pm, representative of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia (DICWC) together with supporters of Mr. Ward will gather on the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra to deliver their national petition, signed by thousands of Australians, calling for justice and action in response to Mr. Ward’s death.

 

DICWC Co-Deputy Chairperson, Marianne Headland Mackay said,”On Australia Day 2008, Mr. Ward, an Aboriginal elder, fried to death in the back of a prison transport van. The treatment of Mr. Ward violated Australia's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. These violations need to be remedied and their recurrence prevented.”

 

“The WA Coroner recommended in June that an explicit obligation to treat all prisoners humanely be inserted into the legislation governing the powers of the Inspector for Custodial Services but the West Australian Government is not doing that.  This is unacceptable.  We believe this must be done immediately, and these guarantees must be incorporated into all state and commonwealth legislation,” said Glen Moore, DICWC spokesperson.

 

The petition will be presented to the Member for Fremantle (WA) Ms Melissa Parke MP (ALP) for tabling in Parliament and will address Mr. Ward’s supporters.

 

The petition calls on the Federal Government to:

 

1.     Review the legal framework for giving effect to Australia's human rights treaty obligations and to international standards within the criminal justice system, with particular attention to the role of imprisonment in punishment, rehabilitation and public security, the conditions of imprisonment and the transport of prisoners, and the comparative capacity of private and state run custodial services to conform with minimum human rights standards and rehabilitate prisoners;

2.     Direct and resource the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a public inquiry into systemic rights violations that underpin the extreme over-representation of Indigenous Australians at all levels of contact with the criminal justice system and to propose remedies for addressing them, including reviewing the outstanding recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and,

3.     Lead discussions with State and Territory governments to enact reforms that would create obligations on governments to respond promptly and positively to coronial recommendations within prescribed time limits.

 

Media Contacts:

 

Marianne Mackay 0401-320-047 E:marianne_mackay@live.com and

Glen Moore 0412-157-823E:g2horse@hotmail.com

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