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Police violence is a national crisis, say Greens

Media Release
Lidia Thorpe 11 Nov 2021

Gomeroi man, Stanley Russell, a father, was shot dead by NSW police. His brother, Eddie Russell, died in police custody in 1999. “Violence against First Nations people is a national crisis and the Morrison Government is doing nothing about it,” said Gunnai, Gunditjmara and DjabWurrung Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe.

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

“This is colonial violence. This is the continuation of the genocidal project that started in 1788. Over 470 people have died since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and we’re still waiting for true accountability. Is the system broken, or working according to its design?

“The police are supposed to protect people, not kill them. Why does being around the police have fatal consequences for First Nations people? My heart aches for this family. The police have a duty of care and that has been completely ignored for this family.

“We’ve had the solutions to end deaths in custody for over 30 years. The Morrison Government needs to work with the families of people who have died in police custody and implement all of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. How many more of us need to die? 

“The Greens have listened to the families and we are joining their call for a national ban on spit hoods and lethal choke holds, greater transparency in reporting deaths in custody and more funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and their peak bodies.

“As a matter of national urgency, we’re also calling for the full implementation of an independent prison oversight system under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Without independent monitoring of places of detention, more First Nations people will die in custody.

“OPCAT is a critical instrument of international human rights law. It needs to be culturally safe, properly resourced and nationally consistent. The Liberal party signed onto it in 2017, and since then have done the bare minimum and called it progress.

“Everyone has the right to be treated fairly, no matter where they are. Humane treatment in police custody cannot be a game of chance. Every person in this country deserves to be treated with dignity and be free from torture. Always.” Said Thorpe.

The Office of Senator Thorpe has asked for permission from the family to speak on this, and use their names.

The following lines are attributable to David Shoebridge, Greens NSW MP: 

“Deaths in custody are not an accident, they are the result of a criminal justice system that is designed to be dangerous, often lethal, for First Nations people. 

“Recurring deaths in custody send renewed waves of pain and hurt across communities. It never seems to have an end.“This is a national crisis that many political leaders refuse to recognise, because those that pay the cost are not the people they are in power to represent. 

“Indifference, platitudes and empty gestures from politicians allow these killings to continue, and it’s well past time they were held to account for their inaction,” Said Shoebridge.

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