CJC slams Pinkenba Six

March 15, 1995

CJC slams Pinkenba Six

By Mick White

BRISBANE — The Criminal Justice Commission has called for the sacking of a senior police officer over the "Pinkenba Six" incident, in which six police were charged over the abduction of three Aboriginal children last year.

The charges were dismissed, despite written admissions of guilt by the police. A protest march on the premier's office resulted in angry clashes, and Aboriginal elders had to physically restrain several protesters to prevent them from assaulting police. A subsequent protest planned for March 10 was abandoned due to the possibility of violence.

For the Aboriginal community, the decision is merely the last straw in a long struggle to force the Queensland government to address seriously the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Queensland's attorney-general has been requested to override the magistrate's decision but has refused.

The chief officer of the Complaints Section of the Official Misconduct Division of the CJC, Michael Barnes, former Labor lawyer, found insufficient evidence for charges of official misconduct. However, he urged Police Commissioner Jim O'Sullivan to sack or demote a senior officer involved. Barnes said of the officer, "He has failed to discharge his supervisory responsibilities competently", enabling the "regrettable incident" to occur.

In a rebuff to O'Sullivan, who had dismissed the boys as thugs, Barnes insisted that the actions of the six police should be regarded "very seriously". Police had abused their powers and shown "total disregard" for the welfare and physical safety of the children, he said. The Aboriginal Legal Service, which had represented the boys, called for the Commissioner himself to be disciplined for "his intemperate description" of them.

The Murri community remains incensed at the Goss government's repeated failure to match rhetoric with performance in the field of Aboriginal affairs. The resignation of Bob Wetherell from the Overview Committee, charged with assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of the royal commission recommendations, signalled a growing impatience with the government's "empty words".

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