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EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN SOLOMON ISLANDS, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:19
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1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: On  3  April  2019,  the  Solomon  Islands  conducted  the  first  peaceful  and  efficient  election  since  the  Regional  Assistance  Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) departed in 2017. The election was seen as a key success. Apart  from  that,  the  Solomon  Islands  has  yet  to  enact  a  comprehensive  human  rights  policy,   and  successful  implementation  of  the  Acts  remains  a  challenge.  In  2019,  discrimination   and   violence   (physical   and   sexual)   against   women   and   girls,   gender   inequalities (including gender-based violence - GBV) - combined with endemic corruption -remain the most significant human rights abuses in the Solomon Islands. Donors have taken initiatives but the number of rape and incest cases continues to be alarming. Other human rights issues included climate change and related problems.

The Solomon Islands’ work on a legislative package of reforms, aiming at improving political stability, access of women to parliament, fight against corruption and protection of whistle-blowers,   has   moved   forward.   The   government   recently   launched   an   ‘Independent Commission against Corruption’. 

2. EU Action - key focus areas: EU’s  actions focus, inter alia,  on supporting the ratification of or  accession  to  the  remaining  core  human  rights  instruments,  promoting  gender  equality  and  women  rights,  and  supporting  CSOs  engagement  with  the  government  on  policy  dialogue and governance.

3. EU bilateral political engagement:  EU bilateral political engagement: The 7th EU- Solomon Islands political dialogue was held in  October  2019,  during  which  the  EU  urged  the  government  to  sign  and  ratify  important  human rights instruments, including the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal  Court.    The  EU  has  invited  the  country  to  legally  protect  the  rights  of  the  LGBTI  community,  although  there  were  no  reports  of  violence  or  discrimination  against  persons  based   on   sexual   orientation   or   gender   identity.   The   EU   is   committed   to   supporting   government  and  non-state  actor  efforts  to  reduce  gender-based  violence.  Regarding  the  fight  against  corruption,  the  EU  delegation  in  Fiji  manages  an  on-going  Budget  Support  programme  that  applies  a  vigilant  monitoring  of  government  spending,  in  particular  the  Constituency  Development  Funds  (CDFs).  The  EU,  together  with  other  donors,  meets  regularly with the government, commends its fight against corruption and openly discusses the CDF situation.  The EU delegation in Fiji will continue to actively promote climate change awareness. In the Pacific region, climate change and human rights are closely intertwined.

4. EU financial engagement: A Regional Financing Agreement worth EUR 13 million to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific was signed  in  the  margins  of  the  Pacific  Islands  Forum  Leaders’  meeting  in  Apia  in  September  2017.  The EU is currently financing an action on ‘Support to initiatives and actions on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse’. The EU has also funded projects on women’s rights, violence against women, women’s empowerment and women’s participation. The EU delegation in Fiji continued a close dialogue with the country's CSOs, which are supported by thematic budget lines (EUR 0.6 million from the EIDHR and EUR 1.5 million  from  the  CSO-LA).  There  are  68  non-governmental  organisations  (NGOs)  currently  registered with the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations.

5.  Multilateral  context:   The cooperation  of  the  Solomon  Islands  with  UN  agencies  is  considered  satisfactory.  The Solomon  Islands  has  completed  the  second  Universal Periodic Review  (UPR) cycle in the UN  Human  Rights  Council.  The Solomon  Islands’   next  UPR  is  scheduled   for   January   2021.   Since   the   country’s   second   UPR   in   January   2016,   the   government  has  enacted  a  number  of  national  laws  related  to  the  protection  of  human  rights, but has been slow in signing and ratifying international human rights treaties.

The Solomon  Islands  has  ratified  the  'Convention  on  the  Elimination  of  all  Forms  of  Discrimination  Against  Women  (CEDAW)',  the  'International  Covenant  on  Economic,  Social  and Cultural Rights (CESCR)', the 'International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial  Discrimination  (CERD)'  and  the  'Convention  on  the  Rights  of  the  Child  (CRC)'.    The Solomon Islands has signed but not yet ratified the 'Optional Protocol to the Convention on the  Rights  of  the  Child  on  the  involvement  of  Children  in  Armed  Conflict  (CRC-OP-AC),  the  'Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children child prostitution  and  child  pornography  (CRC-OP-SC)  and  the  'Convention  on  the  Rights  of  Persons  with  Disabilities  (CRPD)'.  The  government  has  not  yet  signed  the  'Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)' and its  Optional  Protocol,  the  'International  Covenant  on  Civil  and  Political  Rights  (CCPR)',  the  'International  Convention  for  the  Protection  of  All  Persons  from  Enforced  Disappearance (CED)' and 'International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW)'