Fifty members of the justice sector (30 women and 20 men) participated in a workshop to discuss implementation of the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project over the next two years.
Justice sector collaboration was the focus of an initiation workshop undertaken by the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the Australian Government in Solomon Islands.
The workshop included representation from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), Correctional Service of Solomon Islands (CWSI), Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Law Reform Commission, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), disability advocacy groups and youth groups, the Solomon Islands Justice Program (SIJP), the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Australian Government.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Dr Paul Mae, said in his opening remarks that, “agencies under the Ministry have an important role to play in the implementation process of the project”. He also emphasised that, “the Ministry supports improving the justice system in any way with the support of development partners such as UNDP and the Australian Government”.
The Australian Government also funded the Solomon Islands Access to Justice study report commissioned by UNDP. Interim Governance Counsellor of the Australian High Commission, Mr Timothy Church, said, “the overarching goal of the Australian Government access to justice program in the Solomon Islands is for communities throughout the country to have greater access to credible justice institutions which support the rule of law”.
Over the past year, UNDP has supported a mapping of the Solomon Islands justice agencies and the comprehensive access to justice perception survey report, which serves as important baseline information for planning and understanding of the justice framework in the Solomon Islands. These contributed to informing the design and formulation of the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project, which was designed in September 2019. The project aims to enhance access to justice for the people of Solomon Islands, through supporting the PSO to offer greater access at national and provincial levels.
UNDP Country Manager Berdi Berdiyev said, “the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Study, overseen by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and Access to Justice Technical Working Group, serves as an important baseline for evidenced based planning and allows for an appreciation of how different people and groups in the Solomon Islands experience justice, allowing us to draw on evidence of what initiatives work to meet people’s needs, ensuring that such justice is delivered by an inclusive system open to partnership with other sectors and we look forward to the launch of the study early in the new year.
Mr Berdiyev also remarked that “justice is a common thread that runs through all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Access to Justice Project places a particular emphasis on SDGs 5, gender equality and SDG 16, the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.
The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the path of project implementation with an essential component being the establishment of Provincial Paralegals and Community Legal Advocates, together with enhanced coordination across the justice sector by strengthening partnerships and identifying opportunities for collaboration with existing programs.
Source: Press Release, Access to Justice Project (UNDP, Public Solicitor's Office and Australian Government)