26 April 2017
The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (Ltd) welcomes the findings and recommendations of the State Coroner in the Inquest into the death of Ms Mandijarra. Ms Mandijarra passed away in the Broome police station lock up on 30 November 2012, after being arrested and taken into police custody for drinking alcohol in public at Male Oval in Broome the previous evening.
ALSWA acted for the family of Ms Mandijarra at the Inquest.
“ALSWA wholeheartedly supports several important recommendations made by the State Coroner in the Inquest, including that police be stripped of their powers to arrest and detain individuals found drinking in public. This was also a recommendation made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) over 25 years ago. It is high time that Governments heeded these recommendations so that avoidable deaths like that of Ms Mandijarra never happen again”, said ALSWA CEO, Dennis Eggington.
“Time and time again Aboriginal people are arrested and locked up for trivial offences such as drinking alcohol in public. As with the tragic death of Ms Dhu, once in police custody their risk of dying in the face of police indifference about their predicaments is very real. The reality is that non-Indigenous people drinking in public places such as Cable Beach are rarely arrested, let alone die in a police cell. The same cannot be said for Aboriginal people.”
As a woman who was already profoundly unwell, Ms Mandijarra should have been entitled to pass away while still in the community and with a modicum of dignity. To die cold and alone in a police cell, having been arrested for the most minor offence imaginable, in circumstances where police were callously indifferent to her plight, was barbaric and should not be tolerated in a civilized society.
ALSWA is also very grateful that the State Coroner has reiterated a number of the recommendations she made in the Inquest into the death of Ms Dhu, including the need for a Custody Notification Service in Western Australia” said Mr. Eggington.
ALSWA Media Enquiries to Jodi Hoffmann 0428 948 610 or firstname.lastname@example.org