Family of Jay Abatan to hold Vigil

The family of Jay Abatan, murdered on the 24th January 1999 in what the family believe was a racially motivated attack, will hold a vigil outside Sussex police station. Jay's murderers have still not faced trial.

The family have received support from Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, The National Assembly Against Racism and the trade unions UNISON and PCS amongst others.

Internal tribunals earlier this year resulted disciplinary action against officers who were involved in the investigation. In November, the family met with the Home Office Minister Hazel Blears to seek accountability for the serious flaws that the tribunals identified in the investigation.

Tribunals and reports which resulted from the family's complaints confirmed the family's concerns:

· A Sussex police officer gave good character evidence for the defendants in court. The family were not made aware of the relationships between the defendants and Sussex police before the court case.

· There was no incident room for the case, a standard procedure in serious crime investigations. Officers in the tribunal have stated they were told to work on other priorities, to work on Jay's murder investigation "in their downtime" and no overtime was allowed.

The Family are calling on the Brighton and Hove Coroner to reinstate the inquest into Jay's murder and for the Home Office to initiate a Gold group investigation.

Doreen Lawrence said: "When Stephen was murdered in a racist attack we were treated as second class citizens due to the colour of our skin. People want to believe that racism has gone away - our experience proves otherwise. The police admitted to institutional racism and claimed to make steps to change. The fact that the failures around Jay Abatan's murder investigation happened after the publication of the Lawrence Inquiry is an indictment of the institutional racism that we faced, which is alive and well in Britain today. Until this is addressed, the black communities will not see justice or equality. I fully support Jay's family in their campaign for justice. I do not want to see another family go through what we have been through. The police must address the failures in this case if they are to prove they have learnt the lessons of the Lawrence Inquiry and look forward to the day when the black community's lives are given the same value as others."

Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan, said: "The last 8 years have been a living hell. Our family have to live with the knowledge that my brother's murderers walk the streets having brutally killed him. The formal investigations into the handling of this case conclude that there were serious organisational failings in the investigation. These failings have national implications, as they suggest that Black people will be denied justice for the colour of their skin. The Home Secretary told us early on that Sussex police had been thorough in the investigation but we believe Sussex police mislead the Home Secretary by suggesting a number of reviews had taken place to address their concerns when none had been carried out at that stage. The Home Office must now meet our demands of a gold group investigation."

Lee Jasper, Secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism said "Whilst a welcome debate has raged in the media about the casual racism that has been witnessed on our television screens in the past week, the Abatan family are an example of the brutal reality of racism that faces Black people which often goes unheeded. That a Black man can be brutally murdered in a racist attack the streets of contemporary Britain is damning enough, but an equal travesty is that the Police have failed to deliver justice. If people could see the brutality of the attack that Jay suffered, they would be shocked that this could happen in this day and age. The failures in the murder investigation of Jay Abatan are riddled with the hallmarks of institutional racism, which denied justice to the Lawrences and Jay’s family. Only full accountability will earn the black communities' trust of the police."

Mark Serwotka, Public & Commercial Services union General Secretary, said: "Jay Abatan was a PCS union member when he was killed. PCS campaigns hard against racism in the workplace and the wider community.

"The recommendations from the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence set new standards for the relationship of the Police with vulnerable minority groups. Jay's case raises serious concerns that the Police failed in their duty to treat black people respectfully and fairly. PCS fully supports the Abatan Campaign."

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “UNISON has always seen fighting racism as a total priority for our members and has campaigned vigorously for victims of racist attacks and their families to be given justice. The family of Jay Abatan deserve justice and to get that they need to be given all the facts."

The family of Jay Abatan, supported by Doreen Lawrence, anti-racist campaigners and trade union leaders, is to commemorate 8 years without justice for his murder

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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