Right to Life: Submission on Investigation of Police Related Deaths

On 18 June 2010, the Centre made a Submission to the Office of Police Integrity inquiry into the investigation of deaths associated with police contact.  The HRLRC submitted that in order to discharge its obligations under the Victorian Charter, the Government needs to establish a human rights-compliant framework for the investigation of deaths associated with police contact. The Victorian Government needs to establish an Independent Body which is hierarchically, institutionally and practically independent of the organisation being investigated, both in theory and in practice.

The Independent Body must be adequately empowered and resourced to, where necessary, conduct the primary investigation of the death, in place of the investigative role currently undertaken by the Homicide Squad.  Investigations must be placed in the hands of the Independent Body as soon as practicable, ideally within one hour of a death associated with police contact.

Investigations must be conducted with genuine independence.  This should involve procedural safeguards, such as separating police officers until they are interviewed by the Independent Body.  It is important that police officers (either witnesses or suspects) are interviewed as soon as practicable, preferably within 24 hours after the incident, unless there are exceptional and justifiable circumstances.  Interviews must be recorded electronically.  Police officers involved in the relevant event should be required to cooperate with the investigation and provide all relevant accounts and documents regarding the event.

Finally, independent review mechanisms must be established to permit public scrutiny of investigations and their results.  Specifically, the victim and/or next-of-kin must have an enforceable right to be involved in the investigation to the extent necessary to safeguard their legitimate interests.

A copy of the submission can be found here.