Cook Islands Opposition Calls For Independent Inquiry Into Tragic Shooting

Parliamentary Opposition Leader
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

October 27, 2016

Opposition parliamentary leader Rose Brown says the only way forward for the Cook Islands following last week’s tragic shootings, is to initiate an independent inquiry to address concerns raised by the families and the general public regarding this tragedy.

She says the opposition does not agree with the PM’s views that it should be left to government and Justice ministry officials to investigate the incident, because it is a very serious matter involving the loss of life and the participation of two government ministries – Police and Justice.

“There are so many unanswered questions involving these two agencies,” Brown said in a statement.

“For instance, what has happened to the PERC report on the allegations of corruption in the Prison Services? This long outstanding report has not seen the light of day. Why?

“As for the police, although we are sympathetic to the pressures they are under, it does not preclude the fact that they are still accountable, no matter what the circumstances.

“We believe any inquiry must be done in a manner that is transparent, fair and provides solutions that will address the concerns of the public to allay fears of a repeat of such an incident. The aftermath of their actions is questionable as the situation is now turning from one of sympathy to one of anger.”

Brown said it was important that the person or persons engaged to undertake an investigation were credible and had the knowledge and experience to conduct an independent inquiry.

“To say that any inquiry should be left to government and ministry officials reeks of nepotism and is unlikely to come up with a fair and transparent outcome. Both these agencies have been the subject of much public criticism and it is only fair that they distance themselves from any inquiry until it is completed and their involvement neutralised.

“It is also unfortunate the prime minister has opted to grandstand on an issue of public interest. My comments in last week’s CI News were focused on comforting the families and the community who were traumatised by this incident. 

“To suggest that in any way it was political posturing is absolute nonsense as I was merely inviting the PM and his government to meet as responsible leaders so that we can discuss this matter in a way that is politically neutral and non-threatening.

“His response is not only surprising, but rather patronising to say the least.

Brown said people wanted answers and the government was obliged to give those answers or face the consequences at the polls.

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