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Pitcairn Trials Bill introduced

Pitcairn Trials Bill introduced

The Pitcairn Trials Bill, which allows the Pitcairn Courts to sit on New Zealand soil, was introduced into Parliament today, said Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff.

“The Bill implements obligations in an Agreement between the Governments of New Zealand and the United Kingdom, allowing Pitcairn trials to be held here.

“Following British police investigations into alleged sexual offending on Pitcairn, the Government of the United Kingdom approached New Zealand seeking assistance for it to provide a venue for the trials of the alleged offenders.

“The Agreement to do this broadly parallels the process of the recent Lockerbie trial which was conducted under British law in a British Court but held in the Netherlands.

“New Zealand does not have any input into the decision over the charges to be laid or prosecuted, nor does it determine the trial process or provide any appeal. It simply provides the venue. The legislation preserves the independence of the Pitcairn courts.

“New Zealand will on request enforce a Pitcairn sentence of imprisonment or community-based sentence. However a sentence would not be enforced in New Zealand unless the offender concerned consents.

”All costs associated with the trials and any subsequent imprisonment will be born by the United Kingdom government.

“New Zealand’s decision to provide the venue for the trials, if required, reflects the practical difficulties of holding trials on Pitcairn itself, and the disadvantages of holding such trials in the UK.

“Pitcairn presents major logistical difficulties as a venue for trials because of its remoteness, geography and the nature of the facilities available.

“The Island has a population of only 45. It has no harbour, no airport and no hotel. It relies on rain for a fresh water supply.

“The Island could not sustain an influx of judges, lawyers, court staff and others who would be involved in the trials.

“New Zealand is the logical alternative venue with the majority of Pitcairn Islanders living in this country. The overwhelming majority of alleged victims live in New Zealand, along with a number of the alleged offenders.

“The Governor of Pitcairn is the UK High Commissioner to New Zealand and the Commissioner of Pitcairn who is in charge of the practical administration of the Island’s affairs is also in the British High Commission here. New Zealanders hold the key offices in the Pitcairn justice system, including the judges, prosecutor and the pubic defender.

“Allowing the Pitcairn justice system to take its course at an early date would seem to be in the interest not only of the victims but also those against whom allegations of offending have been made.

“It is in the interests of the Pitcairn community as a whole to have this matter dealt with so it can move forward.

“All parties in Parliament have been consulted on the decision to introduce the Pitcairn Trials Bill which will be subject to Select Committee consideration and submissions and passed as soon as possible, Mr Goff said.

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