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31 years later, over 500 deaths and no justice: On the eve of a Royal Commission anniversary, Greens call for independent oversight of prisons

Media Release
Lidia Thorpe 19 Apr 2022

On the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handing down their recommendations, The Greens have today called for urgent end to torture and abuse in prisons and other places of detention, like police watch houses, and some aged care facilities.

The following lines are attributable to Gunnai, Gunditjmara and DjabWurrung Senator Lidia Thorpe, Greens spokesperson for Justice and First Nations:

After the Australian government fully ratified the Convention Against Torture they were required to stamp out torture and abuse in places of detention by setting up an independent body to inspect these facilities. They failed to do this by their own deadline.  They need to go.

I am hearing some of the most horrific stories of abuse, torture, and cruel and degrading treatment of imprisoned people, particularly First Nations people. An independent oversight body of places of detention will absolutely keep imprisoned people safe and prevent more deaths in custody. No wonder the Morrison Government hasn’t prioritised this.

There is a cruel lack of oversight in prisons and places of detention in this country. Until that changes, people will continue to die in custody, First Nations people in particular.

The Greens have a plan to provide $382m to establish this oversight body in partnership with the states and territories so that all imprisoned people have their human rights respected and affirmed while imprisoned. 

The Greens will also establish a fully independent and impartial Police Ombudsman system to handle complaints about the conduct of police officers and take appropriate action. The system we have now, where police investigate themselves when they are accused of wrongdoing, is completely inappropriate.

This is in addition to The Greens plan to:

  • continue working with the families impacted by deaths in custody to fully implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody;
  • raise the age of legal responsibility to at least 14; and
  • more than double funding for legal assistance services to keep people from getting caught in the quicksand of the criminal legal system.

The Greens election policy platform can be found here: 

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