Monday, 4 October 2010 7:45 AM

Solomon's Ready to Forgive and Forget

Solomon Islands will introduce laws to pardon serious crimes - including murder - committed during the years of ethnic unrest that sparked a major Australian-led peacekeeping mission.

But the special forgiveness bill proposed by new Solomon's Prime Minister Danny Philip will stop short of ignoring all killings.

"You cannot be forgiven if you've killed a policeman, or a clergy of the church, or a child, or a woman," Mr Philip told The Age. "That is meant to be a line drawn, who can be forgiven, and who cannot be forgiven. I think that is the best idea."

The Solomon's is still struggling to move on from the period 1998-2003 known as "the tensions."

A truth and reconciliation commission established last year is slowly working through hearings into the violence that saw 20,000 people displaced from the capital, Honiara.

Mr Philip said the forgiveness bill would be based on the customs and cultural heritage of the country.

But the response to crimes such as rape are yet to be decided, with domestic violence towards women still a major concern.

Australian officials in Solomons have begun planning for the eventual withdrawal of the regional peacekeeping mission. A "transition committee" has been set up ahead of a review of funding for the mission, due to expire in 2013. About 300 Australian federal police and soldiers are deployed, as well as a large civilian presence, particularly in finance areas.