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Two years on – the fight for justice for Mr Ward continues

25 Jan 2010

Two years after the death of Mr Ward, the Deaths In Custody Watch Committee (WA) (DICWC) are angry and disappointed at the lack of action by successive state governments to ensure a tragic and cruel death, like that of Mr Ward, cannot happen again.

 

On 27 January 2008, Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder from Warburton, was transported 380km in the back of a van in 42 degree heat with no working air-conditioning. For four hours he was locked in the back of the van. The air-conditioning was working in the front of the van, where the G4S officers responsible for transporting Mr Ward travelled in comfort, but was not working in the back of the van, where Mr Ward was being slowly cooked alive.

 

Coroner Alistair Hope, who completed lead the inquest into Mr Ward’s death, found that Mr Ward ‘suffered a terrible death while in custody which was wholly unnecessary and avoidable’.

 

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

 

“We say to Mr Porter – it’s not enough to just say you support something. We need you to act – show that you really are committed to ensuring that what happened to Mr Ward can never happen 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 Ward’s tragic death” said Mr Newhouse.

 

“The DICWC calls on the State Government to act now to prevent future deaths in custody and ensure Mr Ward gets justice. It’s time for Mr Ward’s family to receive compensation. It’s time for the people responsible for Mr Ward’s death to be criminally charged. It’s time for the Government’s contract with G4S to be terminated. And, it’s time for the Government to ensure that all of the Coroner’s recommendations – to which the Minister has already given his public support – are introduced, once and for all”.

 

“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.

 

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DICWC Media Release 25 Jan 2010 2 Years on from death of Mr Ward.pdf129.16 KB