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Justice must also be seen to be done in cases of immigrants, racist attacks

Justice delivery system must ensure aggrieved families get feeling of justice

24th August 2011:
"Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done" — the oft-quoted aphorism is just apt in the cases of immigrants and the victims of racist attacks.
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Be it the case of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, Kingsley Burrell or Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah, it is imperative for the Government, its agencies, the Police and the justice delivery system to ensure that the aggrieved families should get the feeling of justice being given to them.

The latest in the series is the case of Simon San, murdered in Edinburgh in 2009. Three of those accused of his homicide had prior history of racist acts.

His family has called for an inquiry and criticised Lothian and Borders police for their alleged failure to act upon evidence that the attack was racially motivated.

An internal police inquiry, conducted on the basis of a complaint lodged by the family, came to the conclusion that “Lothian and Borders Police failed to recognise that the attack…was racist.”

For the purpose of assuring the aggrieved families, a thoroughly transparent approach, a more open mind while carrying out the investigations and greater interaction with the family, relatives and supporters is required. They need to be assured, and reassured, that the justice delivery system is in place.

And, the words of assurance, and reassurance, need to be substantiated with a strong action against the erring so that the message of justice travels not just to the aggrieved, but also the culprits.

The need for all this can be gauged from the protest marches. Only in July the family of 29-year-old Kingsley Burrell marched in Birmingham. Others who lost their loved ones in similar circumstances too joined the family in the march. They included the families of Mikey Powell, Sean Rigg and Smiley Culture.

As per media reports, Kingsley had called in the police for help after he and his 5-year-old son were intimidated by a group of youngsters. He was arrested and later sectioned before being taken to the Oleaster mental health unit.

Kingsley was subsequently transferred to the Seacole unit, where the police were again called in. Kingsley was taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital for treating a cut to his eye. He was discharged back to the Oleaster centre. Acording to the IPCC press release, he ‘suffered a serious medical condition’ and was transferred back to hospital where he died.

The family and friends of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah have also been seeking justice. Already, his family, including his widow, children, mother, brother, sisters and cousins, have questioned the circumstances in which he died on 3 July 2008.

Only in December last, the family attended the inquest in to Habib’s death. But, the jury was not able to complete the hearing of the evidence, after it came out that five police officers had amended statements earlier submitted to the IPCC, which conducted an investigation in to the death.

It’s been more than two years since Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah died, whilst being arrested during a routine stop and search in a car park in High Wycombe.

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