Cook Islands
Cook Islands
(self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Joined United Nations:  24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 08 December 2012

[Fundamental human rights and freedoms

64 (1) It is hereby recognised and declared that in the Cook Islands there exist, and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by
reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, opinion, belief, or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms-

(a) The right of the individual to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with

(b) The right of the individual to equality before the law and to the protection of the law;

(c) The right of the individual to own property and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law:

Provided that nothing in this paragraph or in Article 40 of this Constitution shall be construed as limiting the power of Parliament to
prohibit or restrict by Act the alienation of Native land (as defined in section 2(1) of the Cook Islands Act 1915 of the Parliament of New

(d) Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion;

(e) Freedom of speech and expression;

(f) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) It is hereby recognised and declared that every person has duties to others, and accordingly is subject in the exercise of his rights and
freedoms to such limitations as are imposed, by any enactment or rule of law for the time being in force, for protecting the rights and
freedoms of others or in the interests of public safety, order, or morals, the general welfare, or the security of the Cook Islands.

[Construction of law

65 (1) Subject to subclause (2) of this Article and to subclause (2) of Article 64 hereof, every enactment shall be so construed and applied
as not to abrogate, abridge, or infringe or to authorise the abrogation, abridgement, or infringement of any of the rights or freedoms
recognised and declared by subclause (1) of Article 64 hereof, and in particular no enactment shall be construed or applied so as to-

(a) Authorise or effect the arbitrary detention, imprisonment, or exile of any person; or

(b) Impose or authorise the imposition on any person of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment; or

(c) Deprive any person who is arrested or detained-

(i) Of the right to be informed promptly of the act or omission for which he is arrested or detained, unless it is impracticable to do so or
unless the reason for the arrest or detention is obvious in the circumstances; or

(ii) Of the right, wherever practicable to retain and instruct a barrister or solicitor without delay; or

(iii) Of the right to apply, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, for a writ of habeas corpus for the determination of the validity
of his detention, and to be released if his detention is not lawful; or

(d) Deprive any person of the right to a fair hearing, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, for the determination of his
rights and obligations before any tribunal or authority having a duty to act judicially; or

(e) Deprive any person charged with an offence of the right to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty according to law in a fair
and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal; or

(f) Deprive any person charged with an offence of the right to reasonable hail, except for just cause; or

(g) Authorise the conviction of any person of any offence except for the breach of a law in force at the time of the act or omission; or

(h) Authorise the imposition on any person convicted of any offence of a penalty heavier than that which might have been imposed under
the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.

(2) Every enactment, and every provision thereof shall be deemed remedial, whether its immediate purpose is to direct the doing of
anything that the enacting authority deems to be for the public good, or to prevent or punish the doing of anything it deems contrary to
the public good, and shall accordingly receive such fair, large, and liberal construction and interpretation as will best ensure the attainment
[[of the object]] of the enactment or provision thereof according to its true intent, meaning and spirit.

(3) In this Article the term "enactment" includes any Act of the Parliament of England or the Parliament of Great Britain or the Parliament
of the United Kingdom, being an Act in force in the Cook Islands, and any regulation, rule, order, or other instrument made thereunder.

The words "of the object" were inserted in subcl (2) by s 9 of the Constitution Amendment (No 10) Act 1981 (CI)


66 Nothing in this Part of this Constitution shall limit or affect any right or freedom, not specified in this Part, that may exist in the Cook
Islands at the commencement of this Part.]

Part IVA was inserted by s 8 of the Constitution Amendment (No 9) 1980-81 (CI)
Polynesians first settled the Cook Islands in the 6th Century BCE.  Spanish explorers first
noted visiting the island of Pukapuka in 1595.  British navigator James Cook visited in 1773
naming them the Hervey Islands. Christianity reached the islands in 1821 with British
missionaries. In 1858 the Kingdom of Rarotonga was established, becoming a British
protectorate in 1888 at the request of the Rarotonga king to stave off French expansionism
at which time the archipelago became known as the Cook Islands.  New Zealand assumed
administration in 1901. They remained a New Zealand protectorate until 1965, at which point
they became a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand with the
passage of a statute of the New Zealand Parliament, the Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964.
There have been 11 Amendments to the Constitution enacted in the Cook Islands.   Human
rights are enumerated with Amendment Number 9 (Part IVA),  a form of Bill of Rights with the
declaration that certain fundamental human rights and freedoms exist in the Cook Islands
which conform with  the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are enumerated
below . While self-governing,  foreign relations are a function of New Zealand of which is a
signatory of the Declaration.  For a full English translation of  the Cook Islands' Constitution,
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