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The senseless acts of violence in Cook Islands by Chris Rimamotu that resulted in the deaths of Maryanne Dean and Roger Tauarea and, ultimately, Rimamotu himself were preventable.
That’s the conclusion of the full report conducted by retired Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner Denis McDermott, and retired Cook Island’s Police Commissioner Tevai Matapo.
The report also included a number of recommendations to government ministries from Health through to Justice - with the Prison Service receiving special attention.
This review was conducted with a policy of transparency and all the information will be made known as soon as the families are given first the opportunity and time with the two men charged with carrying out this inquiry, then relevant heads of ministries.
The Cook Island’s government received the final report at Cabinet in a full briefing from both McDermott and Matapo. The 64-page report and 47 recommendations were presented along with a lengthy round of open discussion and questions.
The inquiry’s final conclusion was that the crime was preventable and that extensive research found many policies and procedural, as well as intelligence, failures occurred within the prison system to contribute to the tragedy.
Prime minister Henry Puna said the government was thankful that the report’s recommendations for Cabinet have provided it with a structured and responsive avenue to implement a range of changes.
These would be done in consultation with the relevant government ministries and would ensure systems - that should protect our communities, those involved with the care of the prison population, the police, as well as our most vulnerable - will be strengthened.
“As your prime minister and as your government, we will not be satisfied until we have implemented, where possible, every aspect of these recommendations as we work towards making sure nothing like this happens again.
He said as a community everyone had an obligation to ensure the safety of all citizens, who should have confidence in their safety.
As should, he said, those entrusted with providing that safety.
“It was unhelpful that during the past few months’ negative comments were directed at the inquiry team and the nationality of one of its members as well as the integrity of the inquiry and the Office of the Prime Minister in overseeing this inquiry. To politicise this tragedy and its mandate was heartless and without any thought whatsoever for the victims and their families who desperately wanted answers.”
Puna said the terms of reference for the inquiry were developed from the Office of the Prime Minister with the assistance of Crown Law. McDermott’s appointment had been a Cabinet decision based on advice from Police Commissioner Maara Tetava, who had known McDermott for many years.
“His credentials and experience were what we identified as critical to the inquiry.”
The prime minister will look to putting a working group together to oversee the implementation of accepted report recommendations and the prime minister has asked both Matapo and McDermott to hold a media conference, once the families of the victims have had their time with them as well as relevant heads of ministries.
The CI News believes that conference will be held sometime today.
“We thank you for your continued patience and we look forward to releasing this full report to the public and to you continuing to join with us in making our communities safe for all.”
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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