11 May 2006

Cook Islands police deny ignoring sex abuse cases

8:18 pm on 11 May 2006

Police in the Cook Islands are rejecting criticism of their handling of sexual abuse cases.

The Cook Islands Women Counselling Centre, Punanga Tauturu, claims police move too slowly on such matters.

They say police have failed to act over the rape of an eight year old girl on Palmerston Atoll even though the alleged offender has admitted it, and there are concerns about a case on Rarotonga.

But deputy police commissioner, Maara Tetava, says they take these kinds of cases very seriously and both are under investigation.

He says for a remote island like Palmerston they need to co-ordinate a number of factors before considering any arrest.

"There are no court officials, there is no justice of the peace to preside over matters, and if we do [travel up from Rarotonga ] we normally have to take a justice of the peace from Rarotonga, to the island, make the arrest, make the arrangement for court on the same day, and with shipping complications as well, we have to make sure that the ship is around to pick up the police officer and the justice of the peace, and the person that is going to be charged."

Deputy Commissioner Tetava says he wishes that Punanga Tauturu had come to them directly instead of complaining through the media.