The Committee to Defend Black Rights has launched a letter-writing campaign to press the federal and state governments to change conditions and practices leading to deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in police custody.
The committee suggests letters to the prime minister should include the following information and proposals:
l Establishment of an independent national body with the status of a royal commission to monitor and investigate future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.
l A government-funded national meeting to examine recommendations from the final report of the royal commission into black deaths in custody. CDBR, an organisation of families of people who have died in custody, has been the major source of primary information for the royal commission. CDBR's suggestions from its 1987 National Family Conference form the bulk of the recommendations in the commission's earlier interim report. It is essential that family members have an opportunity to assess the recommendations in the final report, both to gauge their effectiveness and to prepare communities to monitor their implementation.
l Establishment of an independent body to monitor and advise on implementation of the interim report recommendations and any progressive recommendations of the final report. As a national, incorporated body of families of those most directly concerned, CDBR believes it should be funded and recognised as the national body to monitor implementation.
Letters should be sent to: The Hon. R.J. Hawke, Prime Minister, with copies to The Hon. J. Hewson, leader of the opposition, and The Hon. J. Powell, parliamentary leader Australian Democrats. Address: Parliament House, Canberra, 2600.
The committee also suggests writing to state parliamentary leaders.
The national Committee to Defend Black Rights may be contacted at PO Box 498, Broadway NSW 2007. Phone: (02) 698 9166, fax: (02) 698 9826.