The petition below, initiated by Patricia Morton-Thomas and Paddy Gibson, is addressed to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Terry Mills. To add your name to the petition, visit here.
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On 4 January 2012, Kwementyaye Daniel Briscoe joined the ranks of hundreds of Aboriginal people who have died in police custody in Australia. Yet with well over 200 deaths in police custody in Australia, in only two cases have police officers been charged with a criminal offence, and none convicted.
Mr Briscoe was taken into police custody against his will, purportedly for his own protection, yet died directly as a result of a shocking indifference on the part of NT police officers to his wellbeing. In delivering his findings on the death on 17 September 2012, Coroner Greg Cavanagh laid the blame for the death squarely at the feet of police, identifying a litany of failures on their part to care for Mr Briscoe.
Mr Cavanagh called the actions of police “completely inadequate and unsatisfactory and not sufficient to meet his medical care”, and to police as being “utterly derelict in their duty of care”. The Coroner’s findings are, in our view, sufficient for the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate and pursue charges for negligent manslaughter.
NT police have proved incapable of being trusted to safeguard the wellbeing of detainees. NT police had been chastised by the same coroner in 2010 following the death of C. Trigger whilst in police custody. Many of the same practices and failures contributed to the death of Mr Briscoe, notwithstanding that NT police had made promises to the Coroner to remedy these practices. As a result of their failure to do so, another man is dead.
It is imperative that all individuals in Australia are subject to objective and independent investigation and prosecution of potentially criminal acts. In order for the criminal law to have any legitimacy in Australia, it must apply to all, including police. Prosecution of offending officers is vital both for ensuring basic justice and sending a message such conduct is unacceptable and will be punished.
You can read a fact sheet about Kwementyaye's arrest and death here.
We the undersigned support the call by the Briscoe family upon the Northern Territory Department of Public Prosecutions to review the case immediately and prosecute the appropriate officers. Sign the petition here.