Cook Islands Opposition Leader Slams Government Over Shooting Inquiry Delays

Brown: Silence from government means we're no closer to finding out what happened

By Richard Moore 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 11, 2017) – The government has been slammed for its secrecy over the proposed inquiry into the mass shootings on Rarotonga last year.

And Parliamentary Opposition Leader Rose Brown says questions arising from delays to the inquiry over the tragic incident continue to remain unanswered.

“This is unacceptable,” Brown says, highlighting the silence of the Attorney-General and prime minister Henry Puna, Justice minister Nandi Glassie and Police minister Teariki Heather.

She says: “The prime minister assured the nation at the time that he was doing his best to address public concerns and no stone would be left unturned to provide answers to the families of the victims, social service agencies and the community at large regarding this tragedy.

“He asked that common sense prevail and that the public respect the privacy of the families involved and refrain from public interventions.”

Several months on, she says: “We are still no closer to getting to the bottom as to what happened and the zero response from Government is both frustrating and disappointing to say the least.

“I believe the family - and the general public - deserve better, or at least be kept informed as to progress regarding the status of the inquiry.”

Sources have told the CI News that both the Ministry of Justice and police reports into the incident were finalised before December. Brown says the Opposition is surprised at the delays, but “we are ready to stand and support Government on this issue - if asked - as it is in the public interest”.

“However, the fact there has been no media statements or information with regards to establishing the process for the inquiry, the Terms of Reference and who will be involved in the inquiry team, is of concern and we urge government to honour its commitment in terms of justice, transparency and accountability.

 “Any further delays with the inquiry will just exacerbate people’s concerns and raises more questions than answers.

“What is important right now is to allay people’s fears that this matter is not going to be swept under the carpet in the hope that it will go away.”

Brown says the government must be seen to be acting responsibly in the interests of natural justice.

She adds there are fears the shootings may hurt tourism if the inquiry is not handled appropriately.

“Although it has been close to several months since the incident, which elevated our tiny nation into global attention, the same focus will also expect Government to deal with this matter in a fair and timely manner as it is likely to affect our tourism and visitor numbers if not dealt with appropriately.

“It seems those agencies involved have gone tight lipped on this matter as if to say ‘everything is under control’. Well unfortunately, it isn’t and it’s time government fronted up with a full explanation as to the status of the inquiry.”

Brown says: “We must not forget that three lives were lost during this tragedy and many were affected during the aftermath of the shooting and now this delayed process.  

“Ironically the Minister of Justice was quick to appear on TV at the early stages of the shooting, but now seems to take a backseat approach with little or no communication to the family and public whatsoever.

“Similarly, with the Minister of Police and Attorney-General who have suddenly opted to remain silent on this sensitive and controversial issue.”

Cook Islands News
Copyright © 2017 Cook Islands News. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment