Justice, Legality and the Rule of Law: Lessons from the Pitcairn Prosecutions

Hardcover | October 10, 2009

EditorDawn Oliver

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A British colony of fifty souls in the Pacific Ocean, Pitcairn Island was settled by the Bounty mutineers and nineteen Polynesians in 1790. In 2004 six Pitcairn men were convicted of numerous offences against girls and young women, committed over a thirty year period, in what appears to havebeen a culture of sexual abuse on the island. This case has raised many questions: what right did the British government have to initiate these prosecutions? Was it fair to prosecute the defendants, given that no laws had been published on the island? Indeed, what, if any, law was there on this island? This collection of essays explores themany important issues raised by the case and by the situation of a small, isolated community of this kind.It starts by looking at the background to the prosecutions, considering the dilemma that faced the British government when the abuse was uncovered, and discussing the ways in which the judges dealt with the case, as well as exploring the history of the settlement and how colonial law affects it.This background paves the way for an exploration of the philosophical, jurisprudential and ethical issues raised by the prosecutions: was it legitimate for the UK to intervene, given the absence of any common community between the UK and the Island? Was the positivist 'law on paper' approach adoptedby the British government and the courts was appropriate, especially given the lack of promulgation of the laws under which the men were prosecuted? Would alternative responses such as payment of compensation to the female victims and provision of community support have been preferable? And shoulduniversal human rights claims justify the prosecutions, overriding any allegations of cultural relativism on the part of the UK?

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A British colony of fifty souls in the Pacific Ocean, Pitcairn Island was settled by the Bounty mutineers and nineteen Polynesians in 1790. In 2004 six Pitcairn men were convicted of numerous offences against girls and young women, committed over a thirty year period, in what appears to havebeen a culture of sexual abuse on the island....

Dawn Oliver, FBA, is Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at University College London. Her research interests are in constitutional reform in the United Kingdom and in comparative constitutional law. Her publications include Common Values and the Public-Private Divide (1999); Constitutional Reform in the UK (2003); The Changing C...

other books by Dawn Oliver

Format:HardcoverDimensions:330 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:October 10, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199568669

ISBN - 13:9780199568666

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Table of Contents

Lord Hope of Craighead PC, FRSE: Foreword1. Dawn Oliver: Problems on Pitcairn2. Dawn Oliver: Steven Raymond Christian and others v. The Queen. The Pitcairn Prosecutions, Paper Legal Systems and the Rule of Law3. Andrew Lewis: Pitcairn's Tortured Past. A Legal History4. Gordon Woodman: Pitcairn Island Law. A Peculiar Case of the Diffusion of the Common Law5. George Letsas: Rights and Duties on Pitcairn Island6. Stephen Guest: Legality, Reciprocity and the Criminal Law on Pitcairn7. Colm O'Cinneide: 'A Million Mutinies Now': Universalist Theories of Rights and the Cultural Specificity of Pitcairn Island'8. Brian Simpson and Dino Kritsiotis: Prosecutions for Pitcairn: A Normative PrognosisAnnex: Report of Steven Raymond Christian v. The Queen (Privy Council Report)Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, FBA: Afterword