Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 396. Updated Tuesday, 11 February 2014

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Justice ‘blind to disability’

An inquiry has found that people with disabilities do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system.
 The Australian Human Rights Commission report, Equal Before the Law: Towards Disability Justice Strategies is the result of extensive consultations held last year with victims, perpetrators, witnesses, disability advocates, policy-makers and criminal justice workers.
 It found that equality before the law was a widespread problem for people with disabilities, and in some cases the injustice experienced had been severe.

Inquiry’s findings
 Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes said he was concerned that at least 20 to 30 people with disabilities were detained in jails because they were found unfit to plead.
 “Denying people appropriate accommodation and the support needed to return to the community is nothing short of a breach of human rights,” Mr Innes said.
 He said he was calling on all States and Territories, as well as the Federal Government, to introduce an holistic, over-arching disability justice strategy which would improve the lives of people with disabilities and save the community money through diversion and support.
 “It is a basic human right for all Australians to be able to access the criminal justice system equally, but as I have discovered, dignity, respect, safety and support are all too often missing when people with disabilities are trying to access justice,” he said.
 The report will be distributed to Attorneys General throughout Australia and can be found at this PS News link.

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