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Cook Islands Cabinet has appointed a “high-level working group’’ to ensure a coordinated, transparent and publicly accountable response to findings of the McDermott-Matapo report on the triple shootings on Rarotonga last October.
Prime minister Henry Puna told the CI News the group will get back to Cabinet in four weeks “on recommendations that can be implemented immediately, as well as those that will take quite a bit of time because of the financial implications involved”.
Puna said the group would be driven and chaired by his chief of staff, Bredina Drollet.
“It will have all the ministries,” he said. “Finance, justice, health, the police, the public service commission and the prison.”
The committee membership will include the Secretaries of Justice (Tingika Elikana), Health (Elizabeth Iro), Finance and Economic Management (Garth Henderson). The police will be represented in the group by Commissioner Maara Tetava and the public service by Commissioner Russell Thomas.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what can be done.”
The prime minister said what had to be acted on quickly would be done and, for long-term targets, things would be put in place to “make sure those things are put into effect”.
“I was very happy with the inquiry, right from the beginning and the way it was set up.
“We were under a lot of pressure – understandably from the family - but also from the community.”
But Puna said: “I wasn’t too pleased with the way some people in the community attacked the commission members – particularly our friend from Australia, because Denis McDermott is a very experienced operator.
“That’s his area of work. He was involved with RAMSI peacekeeping efforts in the Solomon Islands and I know when he was attacked as being an outsider it hurt him a little.
“But I’m pleased they preserved and the way the terms of reference were set up was critical for us.
“We wanted to ensure that everything that needed to be captured, was captured by the terms of reference.
“And with assistance of all appropriate agencies and ministries - and Crown Law, I believe we were able to capture all the issues that needed to be addressed.”
Puna said: “The way the report was done was very comprehensive and I was particularly impressed with the speed it was done at and completed.
“And the way they engaged with everybody after the report was completed.
“I made it clear from beginning it would be an open inquiry and the report would be made public.
“It was important. This matter affects everybody in the community and so that’s why the report was released and published.
“I was particularly comfortable with them accepting my request to meet with the family and the relatives and friends of those involved and affected.
“I think we can say overall it was well done, it covered everything.”
The prime minister said the shootings had shocked him.
“We don’t experience violence like that – at least not often - and that came as a real shock.”
It is understood a number of the agencies that were a focus of the report have already begun work internally to address a number of the report findings.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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