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Pitcairn Islands Study Center

News - November 30, 1999

Contact Study Center:

PHONE: 707-965-6244
TEXT:   707-229-1340

Contact Herb Ford:
PHONE: 559-592-0980 or

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  [California Study Center]


PITCAIRN ISLANDS STUDY CENTER, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California USA.

Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.


                        ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., November 30, 1999—A more-than-100-year-old tradition on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean will end on December 6, when the island will end its practice of naming a Magistrate to head local government, and instead name a Mayor.

                        The change moves the Pitcairn government leader's title away from one that is associated with the court system to one reflecting the purely civic duties mayors perform, says a report to the Pitcairn Islands Study Center located on the campus of Pacific Union College here.

                        Pitcairn's current magistrate is Jay Warren. Voting for the island's first ever mayor will take place at 8 a.m., December 6. One of the magistrate's duties in the past has been chairing the Island Council. The magistrate has in the past had both executive and judicial powers.

                        The Island Council, which is charged with the management of Pitcairn's internal affairs, has been comprised of the magistrate, two councillors, the chairman of the internal committee, the island secretary, three nominated members, and two advisory members.

                        An Internal Committee, appointed annually by the Council, is responsible for arranging and supervising the performance of the traditional public work for which all adult and able-bodied men on Pitcairn are liable.

                        The Island Court has consisted of the magistrate and two councillors. Its jurisdiction is limited to offences under the island code committed by, and civil actions between, residents of the island or which arise within territorial waters. In the past, sentence or judgment has been passed only by the island magistrate.

                        It is not clear exactly how the functions of The Island Court will be carried out in the future, except that one Pitcairner said that if a magistrate is needed in the future he or she will be appointed.

                        Admittedly, The Island Court is seldom called to act: In a twenty year period 1990 only two cases on the tiny one-mile-wide-by-two-miles-long island resulted in a conviction and a fine by the court in a period of twenty years.