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Amnesty highlights ongoing justice issues

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on May 28th, 2002.

Amnesty International's newly published annual report has found that indigenous Australians remain disproportionately represented within Australia's criminal justice system.

The report reveals that a Royal Commission established 10 years ago to address the issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody has not achieved positive results.

The national president of Amnesty International, Russell Thirgood, says the consistently high death-rate of Aborigines in custody continues to be a matter of national concern.

"Over the last 20 years indigenous peoples were between seven and 22 times more likely to die in custody," he said.

"This is clearly a human rights issue that Australia has to deal with."

Amnesty's latest annual report also claims Western governements are threatening human rights in their hurry to pass anti-terrorism legislation.

It says democratic countries are leaping onto the anti-terrorism bandwagon too eagerly.

Mr Thirgood says he is concerned about the Federal Government's own anti-terrorist bill because of its vague definitions and the reversal of the onus of proof.

Mr Thirgood is urging the Government to take a more level-headed approach.



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