Dear Editor,
Here is the letter I referred to in my earlier letter.
Yours faithfully,
Frank Short


The issues raised in the recent submission by all sectors of the civil society in the Solomons regarding the proposed review of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) cover many of the concerns that I have raised in recent months, especially the need for an investigation into the causes of the ethnic troubles that have created so much displacement, misery and economic hardship to a people deserving better.

I do not necessarily share the concern of the Civil Society network that the TPA is a threat to national security for I believe that, within the framework of the upcoming review, a mechanism could be incorporated, and agreed, to try and address the issues of truth and justice. The settlement of the Bougainville crises is within sight and this has taken many years of dedicated work by those committed to a peaceful outcome, both within Papua New Guinea and regionally. Just as we are witnessing in Macedonia at the present time with NATO's intervention to recover rebel held arms, each step forward it is hoped will succeed in building confidence measures to enable a peaceful and sustainable outcome.

A gradual transition to a satisfactory outcome is what has taken place in Bougainville and I believe the same is achievable in the Solomons, given the dedication and good will of all concerned.

As I understand the situation to be, amnesty provisions now exist in the Solomons which cover acts, omissions and offences associated with political objectives committed in the course of the ethnic conflict of the past two years. Concern for the perpetrators is not enough, in my view, for there are many individuals, families and communities (and who have not received compensation) who have suffered deeply as a result of human rights violations. They deserve to know the truth as part of the healing process. It is the search for the truth which can create the moral climate in which reconciliation and peace might flourish. I would encourage the participants in the forthcoming review of the TPA to consider the adoption of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide the bridge between the recently divided communities, characterized by conflict, bloodshed, suffering and injustice, to a brighter future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful-co-existence.

The aims of such a Truth and Reconciliation Commission might be:

-To seek the truth, record it and make it known to the public.

-To return to victims their civil and human rights.

-To create a culture of human rights and respect for the rule of law.

-To restore the moral order, and

-To prevent the shameful past happening again.

By the adoption of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission instead of revenge there could be reconciliation and respect for the rule of law. If this is followed by the election of a Government committed to working democratically for the well being of all the people of the Solomons, and a reform of the police service, aided by the Solomon's traditional development partners, then we could see the return of a compassionate state and, once more, the "Happy Isles."

Yours faithfully

Frank Short