Institutional racism laid bare: the fight for Justice for Shukri continues
As the Inquest into Shukri Abdi’s death comes to a close, Attiq Malik, a lawyer for the family argues that this is not the end in the fight for justice…
The case of Shukri has been a long and arduous journey for the family over a period of just under 18 months in a pursuit of justice after the tragedy of Shukri’s death.
From the start of the case, within 10 hours of her death, the family were told by the police that it was nothing more than an accident, with no weight being given to their concerns. Simultaneously they was bombarded by rumours and speculation of what had happened, adding to their grief and anxiety.
This meant that the first step for justice in this case was to establish the truth of what had actually happened. The truth of the circumstances of her death as well as the truth of the depth and breadth of the police investigation.
These truths were finally laid bare via the inquiry process of the Inquest, where findings were made that Shukri could not swim, that she was taken to a deep part of a river with this knowledge, and left there when difficulty arose and then drowned. In the lead up to this it was accepted as fact that the child involved had accosted Shukri in the school locker room to persuade her to go with her, said to her words to the effect of “get in the water or I will kill you” and laughed at her whilst she was drowning upon her return to the rocks. Yet the Court decided that the conduct of Child 1 was not criminal.
Due to a recent High Court decision there is a question mark over whether the final prong of the gross negligence manslaughter test is even applicable as the new position is that Coroners Court should approach such cases on a civil standard, balance of probabilities, as opposed to the Criminal standard. On this basis if a High Court decides that the final prong of the test no longer applies or has been incorrectly applied then it would render the current conclusion by the Court as incorrect.
With regard to the police conduct in the case, now that the Inquest has concluded, all of the information that is necessary to assess an action against the police is present and requires consideration and application by the legal team.
This may have been an end of a chapter in the journey of Justice for Shukri, but it is not the end of the book. The family at least now know what really happened to Shukri, the facts of which have not only been confirmed in a court of law but of also out there for determination by the court of public opinion, a powerful court indeed. The fight for Justice for Shukri continues.
Attiq Malik is a Director, Advocate and Solicitor at Liberty Solicitors and is also Secretary of the Society of Asian Lawyers. This article first appeared on www.counterfire.org and is reproduced with permission.