The Islanders of Remote Pitcairn Are Being Punished for the Crimes of a Few |TODAY|
Submitted by dan. on 2007-05-31 22:24.
The crimes of which the Pitcairn men were accused had happened 20 years previously. No one would be protected by locking them away. Victims had left the island or become adults. Nor could the island manage without its men. Their strength was needed to work the longboats and keep the place running. And everyone on Pitcairn was, or was related to, either a defendant or a victim. The trials and worldwide publicity created a climate of suspicion and paranoia, and divided families.
It all seemed bizarre. Pitcairn, the most primitive of places, hadn't even provision for piped water, yet £5m had been spent on these trials. The process of English law in any high street is expensive but, for this remote island, the costs were phenomenal. Bills were drafted and legions of lawyers and officials employed. Defendants won the right to be tried and, if convicted, imprisoned, on their own territory. The existing prison had been a shed for garden tools. Prison warders were to be brought from New Zealand to manage the new one. There was the cost of chartered shipping and of accommodation for them and all of the judges and others who were to come to the island for the trials... .
The island needed opening up, not battening down. Restorative justice might have been appropriate, a learning of respect for women, a strategy to steer the islanders away from their closed and guilty past. Benign outside influence was needed. A sum like £5m might have brought infrastructure and enlightenment, not grief.
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