source: BBC News
published:10 June 2021
Australian mother Leetona Dungay and a team of high-profile lawyers will take a claim over her son’s death in custody to the United Nations. Indigenous man David Dungay Jr died after being restrained by five prison officers in a Sydney cell in 2015.
The complaint argues Australia violated his human rights and failed to protect his life. The legal team is also seeking to put pressure on the government over its record on Indigenous deaths in custody. Aboriginal people have the highest rate of incarceration of any group in the world.
Since 1991, at least 474 Indigenous people have died in custody. While Aboriginal people don’t die at a greater rate than non-Aboriginal Australians in custody, they are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
“The UN needs to know that there is a crisis in this country,” Ms Dungay said. Her son died in a Sydney prison after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, the 26-year-old was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative.
Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly, before losing consciousness.