LETTER: DPP’s failure to investigate Briscoe’s death is a blight on the justice system

Sir – The decision by the Department of Public Prosecutions not to investigate the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in a police cell in January 2012 is another shocking blight on the justice system and its treatment of Indigenous Australians.
[We have] been notified by Mr Briscoe’s family that the Northern Territory DPP Director has responded this week to a letter sent by their lawyers.
Richard Coates has told the family his department will not carry out an investigation into the case, stating as the Coroner did not recommend charges against the officers involved, the matter will not be pursued.
It is reprehensible and incredibly sad that a young man taken into custody on the premise he will be safer in a cell because of his intoxication level,  as a result of inhumane treatment, died alone there.
Adding to Mr Briscoe’s family distress is the fact that around the one year anniversary of his death they are notified there will be no investigation into the criminal liability of the police that were responsible for him at the time of his death.
Amnesty International calls on the DPP to publicly justify the reasons it has chosen to ignore the concerns of Mr Briscoe’s family and the Coroners findings that the police were inadequate and unsatisfactory in their care of Mr Briscoe.
The 27 year old died in a cell in Police Protective Custody in Alice Springs after his arrest for intoxication.
Late last year the Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh found that Mr Briscoe’s death was preventable and caused by a lack of adequate care.
Following on from the Coroner’s findings the family continued to call for the police involved to be charged over the death.
Amnesty International supports the Briscoe family search for justice and despite this latest disheartening development, continues to call for an impartial and independent investigation of the highest standard.
People in custody must be treated in accordance with the international standards that Australia has sworn to uphold.

The organisation calls on the Federal, State and Territory Governments to address why all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into deaths in custody 22 years later have still not been implemented.
Monica Morgan

Amnesty International’s Indigenous Rights Program

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