Justice for Mr Ward campaign continues

September 20, 2009

The Justice for Mr Ward campaign organised a lunchtime rally to hand over 5000 petitions to the WA state government on September 16, followed by an evening public meeting. More than 100 people attended the rally and about 200 attended the meeting.

Ward was an Aboriginal elder who was cooked to death in the back of a prison van in January 2008.

A key demand of the petition is to terminate the contact of private security company GSL (now renamed G4S), which was responsible for the prison van at the time of Mr Ward's death. Other demands include full and prompt implementation of the WA coroner's findings and for criminal charges to be laid against those responsible.

In February, Coroner Alistair Hope found that the WA Department of Corrective Services, GSL and the two prison van drivers were all responsible for Mr Ward's death.

Greens parliamentarian Giz Watson accepted the petitions from Daisy Ward (Ward's cousin) and pledged her full support for the demands of the petition. Labor has presented a private member's bill to carry out two of the coroner's recommendations.

The Liberal state government has promised legislation to allow the Inspector of Custodial Services to audit the cases of up to 1% of WA's average prisoner population. It claims this will prevent another death like that of Ward.

The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee is planning a John Pat memorial day on October 2 to remember all those who have been killed in custody.

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