Initial findings from a national survey of access to justice show that citizens commonly rely on traditional authorities to resolve disputes and want stronger links to the formal justice system.
The Comprehensive Access to Justice Study, conducted by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Access to Justice Project, captures more than 2,600 Solomon Islanders’ needs and perceptions of the justice system.
The study provides data from women, men, youth and people with disability, primarily in rural settings, across all provinces. The findings and recommendations will inform policy priorities and future justice sector programmes.
“This report, these initial findings shine a light on our sector,” Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs Ethel Sigimanu told government and civil society representatives on Wednesday at a validation workshop held at Mendana Hotel.
“Together we must act to make sure that all Solomon Islanders have access to justice no matter who they are or where they live,” she said.
One of the study’s key findings was the continued reliance on the traditional justice system throughout Solomon Islands. About 66 percent of respondents said the most common way to handle disputes in the community is through the village chief, followed by church leaders and police.
According to the survey, Solomon Islanders with a disability were nearly twice as likely to be very unsatisfied with justice services as those without a disability. Focus groups, key informant interviews and institutional data supplemented the survey findings. Insights from victims of domestic violence, prison remandees and other vulnerable groups also helped to illustrate justice across the country.
“Access to justice is about poverty. It is about discrimination. It is about human rights,” said UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager a.i. Anna Chernyshova.
Ms. Chernyshova emphasized that Solomon Islands’ commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), means providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels by 2030.
“I would like to thank the Australian Government for its continued support, and I commend the Solomon Islands Government on the progress made in this space to date,” she said.
“We look forward to continuing this partnership and working together to turn initial findings to recommendations and from recommendations on a page to concrete action and improvements across the Solomon Islands.”
The Access to Justice Project is implemented by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs in partnership with UNDP and funded by the Australian Government.
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