A study conducted on access to justice in the Solomon Islands has been jointly launched yesterday by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Australian Government.
The Study was conducted in 2018-2019 under the Access to Justice Technical Working Group, with the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and supported by the Australian Government and UNDP.
The survey was carried out in all provinces with a cross section of urban, rural and per-urban communities ensuring wide representation of all provinces. Some 2,633 Solomon Islanders (50.3% men and 49.7% women) were surveyed.
The Study provides an insight into the justice needs and behaviours of Solomon Islands citizens and provides recommendations for further efforts to enhance access to justice in the Solomon Islands.
Speaking during the launch, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Justice and Legal Affairs, Dr Paul Mae expressed appreciation with the Study results adding that the Ministry wanted to better understand the needs of citizens regarding access to justice in order to feed that information into the Justice Sector Strategic Framework 2014-2020.
“The Study will serve as a baseline for monitoring progress of reforms and service delivery in the formal justice system. It will also support review of the Justice Sector Strategic Framework and feed into reporting against the Sustainable Development Goals and corresponding goals in the Solomon Islands National Development Strategy,” Dr Mae added.
He further stated that the report provides evidence of the shortcomings of the justice sector and also presents opportunities for actors to collaborate to improve.
UNDP Resident Representative Mr Levan Bouadze said, “UNDP supports national partners to address justice through a human rights-based approach, to nurture public participation, and to expand access to justice, especially for women, youth, persons with disabilities, marginalized groups and displaced communities”.
“It is therefore welcoming to see the commitment of the Solomon Islands Government to address justice issues, gender equality and social inclusion. We are all on the same page and moving in the same direction,” Mr Bouadze said.
He added that UNDP is to proud to provide the technical support for the Study. “It serves as a base for developing partnerships to improve the experience and confidence for Solomon Islands citizens in accessing the justice system.”
The Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan acknowledged the partnerships adding that “Australia is committed to assisting the Solomon Islands deliver a credible justice system that supports the rule of law and strengthens access to justice for all Solomon Islanders”.
He stressed the importance of the access to justice work in ensuring vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities are aware of, and have equal access to, their rights under the law. Acknowledging upcoming International Women’s Day on 8 March, Dr. Strahan appealed to all men in the audience to do more to encourage other men to work together to change the ‘macho’ behaviour that can be so damaging to women, children and vulnerable groups in our societies.