Social Issues

Australia begins real-time reporting of Indigenous deaths in custody

Sydney, Australia, June 21 (EFE).- Australia on Wednesday began reporting in real time the deaths of Indigenous people in custody to ensure greater transparency and accountability of criminal justice systems.

The dashboard, which is managed by the Australian Institute of Criminology, provides detailed information on the deaths of Indigenous people and other Australians in prison, police custody and youth detention.

There have been more than 540 indigenous deaths in custody since a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody made 339 recommendations in 1991 to remedy this structural problem, Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement on Wednesday.

Dreyfus said that real time reporting of deaths in custody enabled “greater public transparency of deaths in custody and accountability of all governments for their criminal justice systems.”

“Every death in custody is a heartbreaking tragedy for families and communities and for far too long, there has been a lack of trusted information available when a death in custody occurs,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said in the statement.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who represent 3.2 percent of Australia’s population of 25 million, accounted for 32 percent of the country’s prison population, according to official data from last year.

In addition, almost half of the Indigenous children, who represent 6 percent of the country’s population, were detained for at least one day in Australia, where the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years.

Deaths in custody is one of the structural problems faced by Aboriginal people, who have been mistreated, had their lands seized and faced systemic discrimination since the colonization of Australia.

The Australian government intends to hold a referendum by the end of the year on constitutional recognition of the country’s Indigenous people and the establishment of the “Voice”, an advisory body to the government and parliament that would give Aboriginal people greater participation in decisions that affect them. EFE


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