The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the need for more robust and responsive access to justice avenues, which is more important now than ever before, particularly for the most marginalized.

Justice stakeholders in Honiara who were guests at a Human Rights Day Breakfast organised by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Access to Justice Project, reflected on the importance of partnership and collaboration to ensure wider reach of justice to all.

The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Honourable Manasseh Sogavare delivered an address at the event and highlighted the significance of human rights as a central figure to recovery efforts from COVID-19.

“The rule of law and access to justice are implementation mechanisms for human rights, turning principles into reality. This mandate cannot be achieved by one institution or organization, we must all work together to realize this objective,” said Hon. Sogavare.

He added, “All institutions represented here play a vital role in ensuring human rights and we need to continue supporting each other during these trying times for our country.”

The theme for this year’s Human Rights Day of “Recover Better – The Future We Want” relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to build back better by ensuring that human rights are central to the recovery process.

“The Australian Government is honoured to be working with the Government of the Solomon Islands and the United Nations Development Programme to support access to justice for all Solomon Islanders regardless of their gender, religious beliefs, socio-economic standing, or physical ability,” said Dr. Lachlan Strahan, the Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands.

“Our strong commitment to the rule of law and access to justice means that Australia will continue to support the Solomon Islands Government and its people including due process and access to legal redress for all citizens,” said Dr. Strahan.

A 2019 Solomon Islands Access to Justice Study which was conducted to enhance understanding of the needs and issues related to access to justice found that majority of women and persons living with disabilities surveyed, reported low levels of awareness and were more pessimistic about justice services.

“Through customized training, provision of technical support and capacity building, UNDP encourages increased appreciation for and application of regional and international human rights principles within national legal systems,” said UNDP Country Manager for the Solomon Islands, Berdi Berdiyev.

“Here in the Solomon Islands, it is through the coordinated effort of our national partners that this translates into practical access to justice for people, particularly marginalized groups such as women, children and people with disabilities. We are proud to support the enhancement of justice sector coordination,” said Berdiyev.

The breakfast held to commemorate Human Rights Day was an opportunity to recognize the partnership required to tackle the inequalities exploited by COVID-19 and apply human rights principles to tackle exclusion and discrimination.

The Access to Justice Project is funded by the Australian Government and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Public Solicitors Office and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Source: Joint Press Release