Friday, 24 February 2012

Stupidity Rules Part 6

There has now been a fourth inquest into the death of Azaria Chamberlain, the baby who disappeared at Uluru in August 1980.

This is, of course, a good thing. The law should ensure that, as far as possible, justice is done and is seen to be done, and it appears that in this case, the succession of inquests and one Royal Commission has indeed attempted to find out the circumstances behind the disappearance of this small child.

The famous cry, 'A dingo took my baby!' has continued to be heard by the legal authorities for over thirty years. How different it might have been, however, had the cry been 'A policeman took my baby!'

Consider the case of Eddie Murray, a 21-year old Aboriginal man who died in highly suspicious circumstances less than an hour after being apprehended for drunkenness in 1981. There was an inquest (which found police had attempted to mislead the coroner), and then after his family joined others in similar circumstances, a protest movement that led to a Royal Commission which examined Eddie's case (amongst 98 others). The report into that hearing found police had been unreliable witnesses and that they had lied to the commissioner. This, however, is as far as official inquiries have gone.

Despite a subsequent legal report into the case complied by the Newcastle Legal Centre, Too Much Wrong, and my book, Eddie's Country, not a single further formal inquiry has eventuated. The closest the law has come to doing so is when the NSW Police Integrity Commission held a 'preliminary investigation' into Eddie's case on the basis of the material presented in Too Much Wrong. After three years, however, it declined to proceed to a full inquiry and stunningly also refused to release a report detailing what it had looked into - on the grounds that it was 'not in the public interest'. Say what???!!!

Don't Eddie's family deserve to live under the same legal umbrella as Lindy and Michael Chamberlain? Don't Aboriginal people deserve to see that justice in Australia is indeed, 'justice for all' and not 'justice for some'? And aren't there many, many other Aboriginal parents out there whose cries are similar to those uttered by the Murrays, who want just to know what happened to their children?

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