Dismissed assault charge in the Cooks Islands angers advocate

A high profile Cook Islands legal rights advocate says a recent case that resulted in assault charges against a policeman being dropped sends a message that there are two sets of laws being applied – one for people in power and the other for ordinary citizens.

Cook Islands legal rights advocate Lynsay Francis Photo: RNZI/Florence Syme Buchanan

Lynsay Francis, who is a founding member of the Cook Islands Women‘s Counselling Centre, said the judiciary and police failed to apply the law and the police officer who was in court facing a charge of assaulting a female should have been punished accordingly.

Ms Francis said the police were supposed to be enforcing the law, protecting people and being role models for the community.

The police officer was discharged without conviction by justice of the peace, Georgina Williams, who accepted submission by counsel that the effects of conviction would be disproportionate to the gravity of the offence.

Ms Francis said this was unacceptable as the Cook Islands is party to CEDAW – the Convention to End all forms of Discrimination against Women and a police officer beating up his own family member should have faced the consequences, under the law, like everyone else.