One of the most telling aspects of the terrible injustices involved in the death in police custody of Palm Islandman Mulrunji Doomagee is that, five years on, there has been no public investigation and report into the roles of various police played in investigating the events leading up to, during and following the death.

It now seems likely that a reportfrom Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) into the way police dealt with that death in custody will be finished by the end of the year.  Precisely what is made public and what happens from there is still unknown, but the CMC’s credibility will be stake almost as much as that of the Queensland Police service. 

There have been growing criticisms of a perceived ineffectiveness of the CMC, as well as allegations that elements within the CMC may be too close to the government and the police.  A report today in The Australian that the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner, Alan MacSporran, has “accepted a brief to represent the Queensland Police Service at the second coronial inquest into Doomadgee’s death, to be held in February” will do little to quell those concerns.

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It is hard not to perceive a justice system operating on double standards when Aboriginal people accused of being involved in a riot on Palm Island, after an initial official announcement that Mulrunji’s death was accidental, were quickly arrested and charged, while so little has happened in response to the death itself and the clear indications of malpractice in the way police investigated it. 

There has been more than sufficient evidence provided to the first inquest, as well as at the trials of some of the accused rioters, to warrant a major investigation. The people of Palm Island, and the many people of Queensland and beyond who support them, are still waiting. Let’s see what the CMC delivers.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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