We are putting people with intellectual disability in prison without conviction.

Australia is failing to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) because people with intellectual disability are being put in prison and left there, without conviction, indefinitely.

Roseanne Fulton’s story was told on Lateline last night. Presenter, Tony Jones then interviewed Warren Mundine, adviser to the Prime Minister on Indigenous affairs. Mr Mundine said:  “What I see is a total mess-up across the board. What we’ve got is a woman who’s trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare. How do we get her out of this nightmare is going to be the challenge and that’s what we have to do… from day one she should never have been in a prison situation. She should have been in a health facility in a proper service area, and that’s going to be the challenge between the Federal, the Western Australian and Northern Territory governments to fix this, because you just can’t have people indefinitely with health issues, mental health issues like that, being trapped in a prison.”

Rick Morton wrote in The Australian today: “Her case is neither isolated nor unusual as a growing number of people with cognitive impairments, almost always black, come in contact with the criminal justice system.”

Australia was reviewed for the first time under the CRPD last September. In its concluding observations last October, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability stated:

Access to justice (art. 13)

30. The Committee further recommends that the State party ensure that all persons with disabilities who have been accused of crimes and are currently detained in jails and institutions , without trial , are allowed to defend themselves against criminal charges , and are provided with required support and accommodation to facilitate their effective participation.

Roseanne’s community guardian, Ian McKinlay has started a petition on change.org. Rosie should not be in prison. She deserves care, respect and support. I urge you to sign Ian’s petition.

Update: At 4.45pm on Thursday, Human Rights Commissioners, Graeme Innes and Mick Gooda issued a joint statement urging the WA and NT governments to immediately resolve Ms Fullton’s situation, to carry out an audit of how many other Australians were being treated in this way, and to quickly address the problem.

Update: As of 5.30pm on Thursday afternoon this petition has over 32,000 signatures. This amazing response has been achieved in less than 24 hours.

If you’re on twitter, you can tweet using the hashtag #FreeRoseanne

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