Ring, ring ... locals call for answers

Tuesday December 10, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Months of not being able to access the phone lines at the Ministry of Justice has locals frustrated. ANNEKA BROWN 19120903. Months of not being able to access the phone lines at the Ministry of Justice has locals frustrated. ANNEKA BROWN 19120903.

Kia orana, is there anybody home at the Cook Islands Ministry of Justice?

 

If you were to judge by whether you can get through on their phone line, you could be forgiven for thinking not.

Issues with the Ministry of Justice’s phone lines are frustrating locals who say they are always busy, their calls don’t go through at all, or after following prompts and waiting on the line they get hung up on.

The Ministry, through Secretary of Justice Tamatoa Jonassen, has told people there is a fault in the phone system. But according to those who need access to services, it’s been going on for months.

Veteran criminal lawyer Norman George said he used to put in an average of at least a dozen calls a week, mainly to the ministry’s Criminal Division, but he doesn’t like frustration and has given up trying after three months.

George said pressing 1, then 2 and waiting to be hung up on at the other end is “simply outrageous” and compared the dilemma to running a never-ending marathon.

“If it was a system upgrade that’s fine, but this is total chaos and it has been going on for at least three months!” he said.

George goes as far to say that at the ministry’s counter, he feels like he gets nowhere and before all divisions – land, criminal and civil – were combined, and worked independently of one another, the system worked marvellously. “If I were in charge, I’d be working day and night until this issue has been fixed,” he said.

Another frustrated local said they had been advised there was a fault with the ministry phone system, but nothing had changed for several months.  “The Ministry of Justice oversees the management of land, criminal and civil matters and justice is not providing a service if they are un-accessible. Please fix the phone system and make justice accessible to everyone.”

When Cook Islands News visited the courthouse, they were told the secretary was the only person who could speak about the phone problems. They suggested “calling him on the landline” – before laughingly acknowledging that was the very problem.

Jonassen did not call back.

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