Conflict, Politics and Crime: Aboriginal Communities and the Police

By Chris Cunneen | Go to book overview

10
Policing and postcolonial
self-determination

A number of themes have dominated the struggle of Indigenous people in Australia. These include the struggle for land, the struggle for recognition of citizenship rights and the struggle for recognition of the collective right of Indigenous people to selfdetermination. In particular the fight for citizenship rights and the fight for self-determination have fundamental implications for the question of policing. How do we ensure equality of treatment? That the rights of citizens are respected? That Indigenous people are not treated less favourably than non-Indigenous people? How do we ensure that the collective right to self-determination is recognised and developed? The struggle for land rights is also connected to policing, although perhaps less directly. The recognition of pre-existing rights to land through native title opens up the related issues of the exercise of sovereignty in matters concerned with law and justice.

The argument presented thus far, and developed further in this chapter, is that neither citizenship rights nor the collective right of self-determination have been respected by Australian governments. How then do we characterise the nature of contemporary relations between Indigenous people in Australia and the dominant society? The argument which I have developed here is that criminal justice still operates in Australia within a political framework that can accurately be described as neocolonial. The criminal justice system maintains a power relationship between coloniser and colonised which has existed since the beginning of European invasion, a power relationship structured in dominance by the colonisers. The possibility of developing legal pluralism was effectively jettisoned in 1836 with the Murrell case, which contemporary courts have held as binding; the possibility of recognising a form of residual sovereignty along the lines drawn by United States Supreme Court decisions relating to ‘domestic dependent

-229-

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Conflict, Politics and Crime: Aboriginal Communities and the Police
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • List of Acronyms viii
  • List of Tables ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Criminalisation of Indigenous People 17
  • 3 - The Nature of Colonial Policing 46
  • 4 - From Over-Policing to Zero Tolerance 80
  • 5 - Terror, Violence and the Abuse of Human Rights 106
  • 6 - Police Culture and the Use of Discretion 130
  • 7 - Policing Indigenous Women 157
  • 8 - Governance and the Policing of Contested Space 180
  • 9 - The Reform of Policing Policies 205
  • 10 - Policing and Postcolonial Self-Determination 229
  • Notes 253
  • Bibliography 269
  • Index 295
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