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Will Trials Destroy Pitcairn Community?

Dr Wayne Mapp National Foreign Affairs Spokesman

7 November 2002

Will Trials Destroy Pitcairn Community?

The Government's being urged to carefully consider the impact on Pitcairn Island with up to 20 men accused of sex offences facing the prospect of court cases in New Zealand.

A select committee's been meeting in Wellington to discuss whether trials for the men should go ahead in New Zealand or on the island, which has a population of just 44.

"We've heard today the island only has eight men capable of operating the long boats - the island's lifeline," says National's Foreign Affairs spokesman Dr Wayne Mapp.

"Quite clearly, if there are serious allegations of sexual abuse, trials will have to take place.

"But in some cases, where the complainant and the defendant are both living here, the hearings might be better placed in New Zealand," says Dr Mapp.

"In other cases logic would dictate that the trials take place in Pitcairn - because I'm worried that community may not survive without key members."

Dr Mapp says another issue which needs to be addressed is sovereignty.

"Since the Island's communications and education system are routed through this country it might be sensible for a Sovereignty Association between Pitcairn and New Zealand, rather than Pitcairn and the United Kingdom," says Dr Mapp.

Ends

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