The three-day event kicks off today and the attending law officers, who are the prosecutors and legal advisers to the governments of 16 Pacific Islands member nations, will hear presentations on a number of different topics.
They include international developments in cybercrime investigations and prosecutions, developments in the taking of evidence from vulnerable witnesses and experiences in the region of investigation and prosecution of corruption.
This morning there will be the turou of dignitaries and guests by the Attorney-General and prime minister, Henry Puna, who is the senior law officer for the Cook Islands. The Attorneys General and Secretaries of Justice from the Pacific nations, including Australia, are among those gathering. The Deputy Solicitor-General of New Zealand is also attending.
The Rarotonga conference has been keenly awaited as the Cook Islands last hosted the event in 2006. The annual meeting was held in the Marshall Islands last year and the year before that was the Federated States of Micronesia.
Initiatives such as the response to domestic violence, corruption and cybercrime in the region have come out of the work of the PILON working groups focussed on those issues.
PILON has collaborative relationships with organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, and Asia Pacific Group on Anti-money laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing all of whom send observers to the PILON annual meetings.
This collaboration has resulted in the passing of domestic violence legislation throughout the region, increased training and skill development in cybercrime investigations and prosecutions and the strengthening of anti-corruption polices, programmes and strategies.
PILON receives funding from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and Samoa, which hosts the Secretariat. New Zealand’s Crown Law Office delivers the PILON litigation skills programme that provides hands-on training for prosecutors in member countries.
The Cook Islands has sent its prosecutors and recently defence lawyers to take advantage of the opportunity to develop their court room skills.
Delegates will also enjoy the hospitality of the Cook Islands outside the meeting times with social functions and a lagoon cruise, all of which have been organised by Crown Law Office staff. The majority of delegates will return home on the weekend.