Australia: Aboriginal boys’ deaths could have been prevented

Amnesty International has today expressed sincere condolences to the families of five teenage boys who were chased by police in Perth overnight, tragically ending in the passing of two Aboriginal boys who drowned in the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). Police are still searching for a third boy.

Alison Gibbins, Amnesty International Australia Deputy National Director, said, “Two months after Police Commissioner Chris Dawson admitted that practices and policies of the WA police deeply affected the lives of Aboriginal people, two Aboriginal boys have drowned after being chased by police”.

“This is a tragedy that should have never happened. The community have been telling the WA Government how to fix the justice system so kids are safe and living healthy lives in their communities. We need to restart the review of the youth justice system that the WA Government has left on the shelf gathering dust since they were elected.

“To stop tragedies like this occurring, the Government needs to commit to working with Aboriginal young people to make real reforms in youth justice. This includes restarting the review of the youth justice system, changing the way Police work with Indigenous young people, and merging Youth Justice into the Department of Communities. These are all initiatives that should be rolled out immediately.  

“It’s a sad sign when children would rather jump into a cold river in the middle of the night than face police.”

Amnesty International is calling on the WA Government to treat this incident as death in custody, and for a Coronial Inquest to begin as soon as possible.

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