Legal body sounds alarm after SA Indigenous death

By Emma Ryan|02 October 2016
South Australia

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights has spoken out following the death of a 29-year-old Indigenous man being held on remand in South Australia.

The legal body has supported calls for an independent inquiry into the death of a man referred to as Mr Morrison, at the request of his family.

“ALHR is deeply saddened to hear of the death of a 29-year-old Indigenous inmate following an alleged altercation involving prison guards at Yatala Labour Prison,” said Amy Maguire, co-chair of ALHR’s Indigenous Rights subcommittee.

“Our very deepest sympathies go out to Mr Morrison’s family and loved ones.

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“ALHR strongly supports calls made by the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement for an independent inquiry overseen by a public body such as the Office for Public Integrity.”

Ms Maguire said there are a number of questions about the time it took for the inmate to receive medical attention, as well as the time it took to notify his family members of the events surrounding his injuries.

“An independent inquiry is needed to shed light on all of the events that took place following the deceased being taken into custody on remand,” she said.

“ALHR notes that the inmate was being held on remand and had never been in prison previously. His family has said that Mr Morrison was preparing to apply for home detention bail to live with his mother in preparation for trial.”

Ms Maguire said despite it being 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Australian jurisdictions appear to have gone backwards.

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“When the Royal Commission report was released in 1991, 14 per cent of prison inmates were Indigenous,” she explained.

“Today, the percentage of Indigenous inmates is 27 per cent. In 1991-1992, there were nine Indigenous deaths in custody.

“In all but one of the 25 years since, there have been at least that many deaths or more.”

Legal body sounds alarm after SA Indigenous death
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