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Aboriginal Witnesses in Queensland's Criminal Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
164 pages
Research conducted by the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission (CJS) indicates that aboriginal people appearing in court as witnesses are often at a disadvantage relative to other witnesses and that courts and legal practitioners do not pay sufficient attention to the unique aspects of aboriginal life.
The research report identifies various strategies to reduce barriers to understanding the aboriginal language and culture. These barriers arise largely from the clash of aboriginal language and culture with courtroom procedures and reflect the failure of the criminal justice system to recognize differences. Recommendations are offered to ensure that courts have the best possible evidence on which to base decisions and are able to interpret that evidence properly. The CJC hopes that implementation of its recommendations will increase the confidence of aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Report chapters deal with the issue of whether aboriginal people should be singled out for special treatment, the legal framework in which aboriginal people serve as witnesses, cultural values of aborigines, alienation in the courtroom, improved cross-cultural awareness, expert evidence, leading questions in cross- examinations, judicial control of court proceedings, the role of interpreters, the court environment, and aboriginal women. Appendixes present supplemental information on aboriginal witnesses in Queensland's criminal courts. 267 references