Solomon Islands

EU annual report on Human Rights and Democracy in Solomon Islands, 2018

16/05/2019 - 05:26
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Although the government of Solomon Islands has yet to enact a comprehensive human rights policy, a number of improvements took place during 2018. However, successful implementation of the Acts remains a challenge.

The 'Child and Family Welfare Act 2017' (CFWA) was passed on 20 February 2017. Joint capacity building workshops on the FPA and CFWA were organised during 2018. There is currently no legislation to legally prohibit corporal punishment of children. The present legislation under Article 233 of the Penal Code (1963) confirms “the right of any parent, teacher, or other person, having the lawful control of a child or young person to administer reasonable punishment to him”. The Draft Federal Constitution 2013 still provides for “reasonable chastisement”.

The government's 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) moved forward in 2018. The 'Anti-corruption Act' which provides for the creation of an Independent Anti-corruption entity (tabled in Parliament in early 2016 and withdrawn in 2017, reportedly due to resistance by certain members of the government), was finally passed on 25 July 2018. Parliament also passed the 'Whistleblowers Protection Act' on 31 July, aiming to protect people who come forward with information on corruption.

Domestic violence remained an issue of national concern in 2018. According to SIG's Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs, around 64% of women aged 15–49 who have been in a relationship reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by a partner.

Legal aid is officially available in criminal, family and civil matters through the Public Solicitor's Office; however it has been noted that the Office is routinely overburdened and under-resourced. Much effort has been put into improving access to justice for women victims of domestic violence, particularly since the start of implementation of the Family Protection Act (2014) in April 2016.

EU action - key focus areas: Main areas of the EU's focus were 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 (SI). Initiatives have been taken by donors but the number of rape and incest cases continues to be alarming. Other human rights issues included climate change and related problems.

EU bilateral political engagement: Following the closure of the EU Delegation in the Solomon Islands in August 2018, the EU Delegation in Fiji is responsible for the EU political and operational cooperation in Solomon Islands. The EU remained committed to supporting government and non-state actor efforts to reduce gender-based violence. Regarding the fight against corruption, the EU Delegation in Fiji managed 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 continued to actively promote climate change awareness, as in the Pacific region, climate change and human rights are very closely intertwined.

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 has been 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 will continue a close dialogue with the country's civil society organisations (CSOs), which are supported by thematic budget lines (EUR 0.6 million from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and EUR 1.5 million from the CSO-LA), under calls for proposals in 2017. There are 68 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) currently registered with the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations.

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