Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
ACADEMIC CALLS FOR 'RESTORATIVE JUSTICE' FOR PITCAIRN ISLAND
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., July 7, 2004—While lauding a decision to try on Pitcairn Island men who have been accused of sexual crimes, a U.S. academic says the decision goes only part way toward assuring the future of the tiny South Pacific isle.
Herbert Ford, director of the Pitcairn Islands Study Center at Pacific Union College here, the world’s largest center of information about Pitcairn and “The Bounty Saga,” said the planned traditional September court trial should be scuttled in favor of the equally effective process known as restorative justice.
“The downtown London trial process as planned may well rip Pitcairn apart,” said Ford. “It will likely deepen already existing divisions to the extent that there could be a migration away from Pitcairn.. The interconnectedness of the Pitcairners is a major factor in this matter particularly as it relates to the island’s future.”
In contrast, said Ford, “The relatively new but proven process of restorative justice will exact such justice as is found to be needed, while at the same time building bridges between existing island factions. It will help assure a future for Pitcairn far more than will a traditional court trial.”
The Study Center director said a formal court trial that meets London standards will not recognize either the cultural differences of Pitcairn from much of the outside world, nor will it take into account the fragility and changeability through the years of Pitcairn law concerning sexual matters.
“The process of restorative justice, on the other hand, brings all who are party to the matter to the table in a moderated, informal setting. It brings both justice to any who may be found guilty, satisfaction to possible victims, and resolution to all concerned. This process will be more readily understood by the Pitcairners, and any remedies needed more quickly accepted as appropriate,” said Ford.
“Such a process has a proven track record in areas where there are small, indigenous groups as is found on Pitcairn Island,” Ford said. “It should be used in this present matter because it provides appropriate justice, and brings true closure to any who may have been harmed.”