Police freed in abduction of Aboriginal children

Issue 

Police freed in abduction of Aboriginal children

By Mick White

BRISBANE — Magistrate Robert Quinlan on February 24 dismissed charges against six police who had previously admitted to abducting and terrorising three Aboriginal children.

In a decision which enraged Aboriginal leaders, Quinlan decided that the boys, aged 11, 12 and 14, were experienced criminals who could have refused police demands that they get in the police car. He therefore deemed that they had willingly gone with the police.

They had been taken to the outskirts of the city, terrorised, told that their fingers would be cut off, then dumped and left to find their own way home.

Each policeman was represented by his own barrister, so the boys were each subjected to six separate interrogations. No allowance was made for either their age or their culture. Barristers demanded that the boys look them in the eye when they answered questions, a practice considered insulting in Aboriginal culture. Magistrate Quinlan failed to intervene.

Previous to the hearing, the police had said that they abducted the boys in order "to give them a bit of a scare".

Sam Watson for the Aboriginal Legal Service vowed to appeal the decision, calling it a disgrace. A rally will be held on Wednesday, March 1, at noon at Roma St Forum followed by a march on Parliament House.

The national convener of the Aboriginal Legal Service, John Leslie, condemned the magistrate's decision and called on attorney general Dean Wells to intervene. "Aborigines have lost faith in the impartiality of the judiciary", he said. "Race relations have reached flashpoint as a result."

This is not the first instance of partisan political responses to Aboriginal complaints, he said. It is merely the last in a long line of questionable decisions which made Queensland look like the Alabama of the South Pacific.

Leslie foreshadowed moves to take the struggle against the endemic racism of the Goss government to the United Nations, given the failure of attempts to obtain justice in Queensland.

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