Douglas Scott was a member of the Anmatyerre Aboriginal Nation of Central Australia. In 1985, he was arrested in Darwin, Northern Territory for allegedly swearing in public. He was kept in custody for 60 days and allegedly beaten by the police and prison guards. On the morning of July 5, Douglas Scott died while in custody. Subsequent trials found that he committed suicide, and photographs were produced by the police in which Mr. Scott was hanging by a bed-sheet in his prison cell.
Letty Scott, aboriginal mother and widow of Douglas, was never satisfied with this finding, and has struggled ever since to have the case re-opened. She managed to get information from other prisoners incarcerated at the same place as Douglas Scott at the time of his death - they testify that he was beaten by prison guards the night of his death. Letty went further. She went to the UN Commission on Human Rights and made an oral submission. With the help of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of America, she got together a team of some of the world's most eminent forensic experts, who conducted a detailed analysis of the available evidence. The forensic team took the view that a large amount of evidence had not been considered in determining Douglas Scott's fate, and that the marks on his neck were 'more consistent with manual neck compression than with hanging mechanisms'. They produced a comprehensive Reconstruction Report of their findings and called for a new inquiry into the death of Douglas Scott.
AHRC supports the call of the eminent forensic team and Letty Scott for a full inquiry into the death of Douglas Scott. If in fact Mr. Scott was murdered by prison officers who are still in their same jobs, a grave injustice has been done. The Commission does not take the position that Douglas Scott was murdered - that is for an independent court to decide. However, as human rights advocates we believe that - especially in the serious and all-too-common case of an aboriginal death in custody - all of the important evidence should be considered in a full and open inquiry. Thus we believe there should be a new inquiry into the death of Douglas Scott.
Please see our Urgent Appeal to see how you can support Letty Scott's 16-year campaign for justice for her family.