VETERAN human rights activist Seamus Doherty has set up a local branch of an organisation dedicated to exposing the imprisonment of innocent people and breaches of prisoners’ human rights.
The Hilton local, along with a gathering of union, Aboriginal and human rights activists met at his home on Sunday to form a branch of Miscarriage of Justice Organisation.
The Belfast-born activist says miscarriages of justice are happening locally all the time.
“Aboriginal incarceration, international protection for refugee rights, the parole system, mandatory detention, police powers of coercion against unions” are all problem areas, Mr Doherty says.
MOJO was originally set up by Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six wrongly convicted of bombing the Mulberry Bush Bar in 1974.
Mr Hill wanted to help others who claimed to be wrongfully convicted.
Mr Doherty says this week’s assault convictions for two police officers who repeatedly tasered Aboriginal man Kevin Spratt in the Perth lock up in August 2008 was a stark reminder of why he was setting the group up.
“What those cops did was atrocious,” he told the Herald. “Thank god there was surveillance. We want good, clean policing, but we want to bring justice to people like those cops who do that to a poor individual.”
Mr Doherty, who worked closely with the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee says the local branch’s role will develop over time depending on the issues.
“We will be human rights advocates, legal observers and watch over the actions of government in its application of the law.
“We support decent policing and we strongly support justice reinvestment as a way of reducing the prison population numbers.”
The group will launch its campaign with the fundraiser Politics in the Club at the Fremantle Workers Club on February 5 at 7pm.
by BRENDAN FOSTER