Family Law Amendments Advance In Cook Islands Parliament

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 29, 2015) – Cook Islanders will soon get a chance to have their say on a piece of legislation set to radically change the way domestic violence is tackled in this country.

Ministry of Internal Affairs secretary Bredina Drollet told CINews that the chairman of the Family Law Select Committee and Cook Islands Party Member of Parliament for Vaipae-Tautu Mona Ioane is expecting to call the committee for its first meeting towards the end of July.

"They will go over their terms of reference and set their timeframe which is expected to be within six months," she said in an email to CINews.

At the most recent sitting of parliament, the Family Law Bill was referred to a special select committee made up of Cook Islands Party MP for Rakahanga Toka Hangai, Cook Islands Party MP for Teenui-Mapumai Rose Toki Brown, Democratic Party MP for Tamarua Tetangi Matapo, Democratic Party MP for Titikaveka Selina Napa and One Cook Islands Party MP for Tupapa George Maggie.

At the second reading of the bill on Friday June 19, Minister of Health Nandi Glassie said it had sparked a lot of interest in Cook Island communities and was likely to garner ‘heated’ debate.

CINews recently reported statistics from the 2012 Family Health and Safety survey show one in three Cook Island women from the age of 15 to 64 have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

The bill aims to modernise family law in the areas of divorce, domestic and child support, parenting arrangements and the care and protection of children.

Changes would include the ability for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to apply to the court for a care order to place a child in the care of the government if they believed that a child was, or was likely to be, in need of care and protection from an abusive home situation.

The law would also enable anyone experiencing domestic abuse to apply for protection orders.

Drollet said the special select committee is expected to review the bill and explore how it could be improved for its proper administration before reporting its findings to parliament.

When a date has been set for the select committee to meet, Deputy Clerk of Parliament Helen Maunga said a public notice will be put out to advise the general public of information on how to provide written submissions to the Clerk of Parliament within a specified period.

Copies of the Family Law Bill, including the full terms of reference are available from Parliament for $18.50.

Cook Islands News
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