Calls for accountability after 3 more black deaths in custody (Australia)

Riot police mistSource: Green Left
published: 11 March 2021

Three more First Nations people have died in custody, two in New South Wales and one in Victoria. It brings the total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in state care over the past three decades to more than 440.

A woman serving an 8-month sentence died in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre on March 5. A man died in a cell in prison’s hospital on March 2, where he was being treated for multiple health problems.

The NSW deaths only came to light after Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin at a NSW budget estimates on March 9.

Severin defended authorities’ silence saying that it was “not appropriate” to advise the public of deaths without any detail and “cause a lot of anger, a lot of angst and a lot of grief”.

Karly Warner, spokesperson for the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT (ALS), called for government accountability. “While identification of people who die in custody must be up to families, the government should be more transparent and timely in the information they share with the public,” she said on March 9.

She said the NSW government has an obligation to let people know when there has been a death in its care, because it is in the public interest.

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