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MEDIA RELEASE 21 Dec 09 "AG’s response to DICWC submission a disappointment to Committee"

AG’s response to DICWC submission a disappointment to Committee

The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) has received a belated and disappointing response from the WA Attorney General and Corrective Services Minister, Hon Christian Porter, to their submission „The Ward Case and Lessons for the WA Government: System-Wide Dysfunction Requires a System-Wide Approach’.

In their submission, the committee detailed 27 recommendations – which included a re-examination of the findings of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC); amendments to the Bail Act; increase of the role of the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services; amendments to the Western Australian Coroners Act 1996; introduction of a uniform national coronial public reporting system; and termination of the GSL/G4S contract for management of prisoner transportation in WA.

The DICWC believes Mr Porters response to their submission is symptomatic of his lack of commitment to ensuring that justice for Mr Ward is served. They also questioned Mr Porter’s commitment to ensuring what Mr Ward never happens again.

“While we welcomed, for example, the introduction of coaches for the transportation of prisoners over long distances, Mr Porter needs to do so much more to address the system-wide dysfunction which led to Mr Wards tragic death” Mr Marc Newhouse, spokesperson for the DICWC said.

As Mr Newhouse explained, “Back in September, Mr Porter formally gave his support for the recommendations made by the Coroner who investigated Mr Wards death. However, the Ministers support was, at best, non-specific about how the recommendations would be achieved, and lacked timeframes for action”.

The DICWC feels that Mr Porters response to their submission was similarly vague, and lacking in detail and time frames. “A number of our recommendations went further than those made in the Coroners report” Mr Newhouse said, “and a number of our recommendations were inadequately addressed. We want the Government to make their position on the issues involved clear, and to provide solid timeframes for action”.

It has been almost two years since the death of Mr Ward. Two years, and too little action. The DICWC calls on the State Government to act now to prevent future deaths in custody and ensure Mr Ward gets justice. “We want to see Mr Porter commit to actions that will ensure that people are safe, and that their human rights are protected, whilst in custody in Western Australia” Mr Newhouse said.

For a full copy of the submission, “The Ward Case and Lessons for the WA Government: System-Wide Dysfunction Requires a System-Wide Approach” and the Attorney General’s response go to our HOMEPAGE.

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Media Release - Call for actions not words from Porter (21 December 2009).pdf97.31 KB