Aboriginal Custody Death: 'Furious' and considerable turnout expected at 'civil descent' on WA A-G's Office

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Office (08) 9881-5651
Mobile 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Aboriginal Custody Death: 'Furious' and considerable turnout expected at 'civil descent' on WA A-G's Office

Media Release
Monday March 31, 2009 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"Many people are expected to express their deep dismay and anger about ongoing inaction by the WA State government following several reviews and reports following serious incidents around the transport of prisoners, and about the brazen breach of Duty of Care provisions in its contract by Global Solutions Limited (GSL), the appointed contractors who were responsible for the death of Indigenous Elder Mr Ward, a man who died in searing heat in an AIMS prison transport van in the West Australian outback a year ago, when a rally is expected to descend on the office of the West Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter later this week," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"American company GSL, now called G4S, should be kicked out of Australia for good, and lose their contract immediately, and all Ministers who have approved the contracts for this death and disaster-causing company, on State as well as federal level, should be flogged in public for the disgrace of taking the easy option of doing nothing, while quietly keeping the contract with this disgusting company in place," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"Time and again, Wackenhut subsidiary G4S, and GSL, and before them Group 4 Falck, and before them ACM (Australasian Correctional Management), all of them representing the same wolf in various forms of sheep's clothing, profiteered and were looking after their shareholders while not giving a d*mn about the welfare of inmates in Australia. These disgraceful outfits have ridden with a profit on the back of jailhouse and immigration detention misery."

"Since Tampa more than a dozen asylum detainees have died while in the custody or under the care of this company, and many of these deaths were preventable: time and again, the lack of immediate remedial action and the absence of full medical assessment was replaced with a do-nothing attitude or one of keeping people sweet with aspirins or panadols or fobbing people off in the time leading up to their deaths," Mr Smit said.

The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee in Western Australia has called for attendance of this march and rally on April 3 at midday, calling for the US subsidiary of the notorious Wackenhut jailhouse company to be held to account for causing his death (full text below).

"While in opposition, Federal Labor publicly denounced ACM and GSL, and promised to return the contract from this US company to the Australian public service. Prominent politician Foreign Minister Stephen Smith got himself credence and credibility by quoting this confirmed Labor policy (since 2004) during public speeches, yet the Immigration Minister Chris Evans recently signed another Immigration detention service provision contract for G4S for the next year."

"We can expect more deaths if this company keeps working in Australia, and these will occur in Maribyrnong, on Christmas Island, or in the extreme circumstances in the WA Outback that caused the death of Mr Ward."

"Even after Mr Ward's death, the two guards who transported him while Mr Ward died less than a meter from them, are still happily working and driving more prisoners in Western Australia: they were not stood down."

"This company is lethal. Kick them out, and kick them hard where it hurts," Mr Smit concluded.

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

March and rally on 3 April to protest the death of Aboriginal elder, Mr Ward

I'm sure you are aware of the disgraceful circumstances surrounding Mr Ward's death...and the deaths of Aboriginal people in custody continues.

Mr Ward was a respected member of his community and he was treated worse than most of us would treat our dogs!

We are advised to never leave a dog in a parked car over summer, even for 30 minutes. Moreover the guidelines for saunas also suggest that a person should not go more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time to start, and keep the temperature relatively low. And yet the company contracted by the Police Department to transport prisoners, GSL, had Mr Ian Ward locked up for more than 4 hours in an un-airconditioned box in which the temperature reached more than 50 degrees Celsius.

Mr Ward would have suffered a slow and painful death. His death is an outrage, a disgrace, appalling! Those involved must be held accountable.

The inquest into his death is apparently due to be suspended this Friday and will resume again in May.

Whilst thousands of police and their supporters rally to protest about the injuring of one of their members and attempt to rush mandatory sentencing legislation through parliament, what sort of community outrage is there about Mr Ward's death?

The Death in Custody Watch Committee is organizing a march and rally outside the Attorney General, Christian Porter's office on 3 April. The intention is for a delegation to talk to the Attorney General. The march will be starting out from Supreme Court Gardens at 12 noon.

We must show the coroner, politicians and the community that Mr Ward matters and we care about his death.

It's somewhat ironical that 2 April is National Close the Gap day, however, we are not going to close the gap if we keep killing Aboriginal people prematurely.

More details about the march and rally will be circulated over the next week or so. In the meantime, can you please publicise this widely to all your friends, colleagues and networks? Thanks.

Contact: WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee Inc - Marc Newhouse - 0415 074 602 | or email: newbone(at)bigpond.com

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