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Jonassen justifies Justice closure

Wednesday 4 January 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, Crime, National


Jonassen justifies Justice closure
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

The Cook Islands Justice Secretary has justified the closure of the Justice Department until January 16 following concerns some returning Cook Islanders are not being able to access the Ministry for land issues, payments, and other matters.

Although the Criminal Courts remain open to deal with arrests during this period, Justice Secretary Tamatoa Jonassen said the staff at the Ministry have had a challenging year, particularly with the increase in court work.

“They have done exemplary (work) with the challenges they face. Many of the staff take this time to use the annual leave they were not able to use earlier in the year,” Jonassen said.

“Furthermore, the month of January in any given year normally does not schedule court fixtures presided over by a judge. With the rest of 2023 year looking to be very busy with back-to-back court hearings and with both courtrooms operating at the same time, it is also an opportune time to prepare for the coming year.”

His comments come after some Cook Islands News readers expressed concern about not being able to access the Justice Ministry for land issues, payments, and other matters.

Jonassen said those staff not on leave are still working and will be primarily focused on backlogs and the ministry’s ongoing digitisation project.

“Notice of closure was coordinated with the Minister of Justice and advanced notice was published in your newspaper to make members of the public aware.

“If there are urgent pressing matters, then an appointment can be scheduled with the appropriate division through our phone, email, or website,” he said.