Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 11:07 UK

Colony abuse victims cash ruling

Adamstown on Pitcairn Island
Six men were given prison terms

Victims of child sex abuse on Pitcairn Island will be able to apply for compensation, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said.

Eight men were convicted of a string of sex attacks after the abuse on the Pacific island was revealed in 1999.

The men had faced dozens of charges including rape and indecent assault on girls as young as 12.

The UK colony lies roughly half way between Peru and New Zealand in the South Pacific.

Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron said the department was working with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to ensure the levels of compensation were linked to the amounts awarded in the UK.

'Significant step'

"What happened to these women was terrible and no amount of money will take that pain away. But I hope this will give them some recognition of their suffering," she said.

"This is a significant step and it is the right thing to do."

The abuse investigation began after allegations were made to a visiting police officer and it revealed widespread child sex abuse over many years.

Named Operation Unique, the investigation resulted in 96 charges being laid against 17 men, both on and off the island.

Eight men were eventually convicted, with six given prison terms and two receiving community sentences.

One remains in Pitcairn prison and will be eligible for home detention from early December.

Assessment

The rest have finished their sentences, been released on licence, or granted home detention.

The scheme will be administered by the Pitcairn Governor's office in Wellington, New Zealand, which will assess each application.

The UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority will then offer advice on the levels of compensation to award to eligible applications.

The closing date for applications is 31 March 2009.

Pitcairn has a population of around 50, most of whom are descendants of the mutineers from the Royal Navy ship the Bounty.




SEE ALSO
Island of shame
09 Sep 08 |  Magazine
Pitcairn islanders lose appeal
30 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
A rock and a hard place
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