Solomon Islands Human Rights - History

Solomon Islands Human Rights - History

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Domestic violence is a crime under the law, with a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of SBD 30,000 ($3,863). In May the government officially launched a National Policy to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls, 2016-2020. Aims of the policy include strengthening the referral network for survivors of domestic violence in rural areas and better coordination among all stakeholders for public awareness about domestic violence.

Violence against women, including rape and domestic abuse, remained a serious problem but was underreported. Among the reasons cited for failure to report abuse were pressure from male relatives, fear of reprisals, feelings of shame, and cultural taboos on discussion of such matters.

A 2011 World Health Organization report revealed that more than half of the women in the country had experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner and 64 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 regularly experienced violence in the home.

Police made efforts to charge offenders for domestic violence and assault against women. As part of the police curriculum, officers receive specialized training on how to work with rape victims. Police have a Sexual Assault Unit, staffed mostly by female officers, to provide support to victims and investigate charges.

In reported cases of domestic abuse, victims often dropped charges before a court appearance, or settled cases out of court. In cases in which charges were filed, the time between the charging of an individual and the subsequent court hearing could be as long as two years. The magistrates’ courts dealt with physical abuse of women as with any other assault, but prosecutions were rare due to low judicial and police capacity and to cultural bias against women.

The Family Protection Act requires that victims of domestic violence have access to counseling and medical services, legal support, and a safe place within the community if they cannot return home. The government has a referral system in place to coordinate these services, but referral agencies are often underfunded, especially in rural areas. The Family Support Center and a church-run facility for abused women provided counseling and other support services for women.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Customary bride-price payments continued to increase and contributed to the perception of male ownership of women.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is not illegal and was a widespread problem.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.

Discrimination: While the law accords women equal legal rights, including the right to own property, most women were limited to customary family roles that prevented them from taking more active roles in economic and political life. No laws mandate equal pay for equal work (see section 7.d.).

Children

Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship through their parents. The laws do not allow dual citizenship for adults, and persons who acquire dual citizenship at birth must decide by age 18 years which citizenship to retain. The creation of an electronic registration system in 2015 helped bridge infrastructure that delayed the registration of births. Delays did not result in denial of public services to children.

Education: Education was neither free nor compulsory. The government continued to implement the Free Fee Basic Education (FFBE) Policy, which covers the operational costs for children to attend school but allows school management to request additional contributions from families such as cash, labor, and school fundraising. The FFBE Policy is intended to increase educational access by subsidizing school fees for grades one through nine, but this rarely covers all costs for schools. Additional school fees and other costs prevented some children from attending school. According to 2013 data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 75 percent of boys who entered primary school reached the last grade, whereas only 69 percent of girls did. According to the ADB, gender imbalance in education improved from earlier years.

Child Abuse: The law grants children the same general rights and protections as adults, with some exceptions. Parliament passed the Child and Family Welfare Act in February. The law mandates the social welfare division to coordinate child protection services and authorizes the courts to issue protection orders in cases of serious child abuse or neglect. Laws do not specifically prohibit the use of children in illicit activities such as drug trafficking.

The government did not provide sufficient resources to enforce laws designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, and neglect (see section 7.c.). The law criminalizes domestic violence including violence against children, but lacked public awareness and enforcement. Child sexual and physical abuse remained significant problems. Nonetheless, the traditional extended-family system generally respected and protected children in accordance with a family’s financial resources and access to services.

Early and Forced Marriage: Both boys and girls may legally marry at 15, and the law permits marriage at 14 with parental and village consent. Marriage at such young ages was not common.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual sex is 15. The maximum penalty for sexual relations with a girl younger than 13 is life imprisonment, and for sexual relations with a girl between the ages of 13 and 15, the penalty is five years’ imprisonment. Consent is not a permissible defense under these provisions; however, in the latter case, reasonable belief the victim was 15 or older is a permissible defense. Selling or hiring minors younger than 15 and girls younger than 18 for prostitution is punishable as a criminal offense. Prostitution laws do not cover boys between the ages of 15 and 18 and therefore leaves them without legal protection. These laws are enforced when reported; there were no reported cases this year.

Child pornography is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. Amendments to the penal code passed in May criminalize commercial sexual exploitation of children and participation in or use, distribution, and storing of sexually exploitative materials with children, and some forms of internal child trafficking. Within the country girls and boys were exploited in prostitution and sexual servitude.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Persons with Disabilities

No law or national policy prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities, and no legislation mandates access to buildings, information, or communications for such individuals. Very few buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities.

The country had one educational facility, supported almost entirely by the International Committee of the Red Cross, for children with disabilities. Children with disabilities could attend mainstream schools, but inadequate facilities and other resource constraints often made it impractical. A center for persons with disabilities in Honiara assisted persons with disabilities in finding employment, although with high unemployment nationwide and no laws requiring reasonable accommodations in the workplace, most persons with disabilities, particularly those in rural areas, did not find work outside the family structure.

The government relied upon families to meet the needs of persons with mental disabilities, and there were very limited government facilities or services for such persons.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country has more than 27 major islands with approximately 70 language groups. Many islanders saw themselves first as members of a clan, next as inhabitants of their natal island, and only third as citizens of their nation. Tensions and resentment between the Guadalcanalese and the Malaitans on Guadalcanal culminated in violence beginning in 1998. The presence of RAMSI greatly reduced ethnic tension between the two groups, and reconciliation ceremonies organized during the year led to further easing of tensions. Underlying problems between the two groups remained, however, including issues related to jobs and land rights.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

“Sodomy” is illegal, as are “indecent practices between persons of the same sex.” The maximum penalty for the former is 14 years’ imprisonment and for the latter five years. There were no reports of arrests or prosecutions directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons under these provisions during the year, and authorities generally did not enforce these laws. There are no specific antidiscrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although stigma may hinder some from reporting.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

There was societal discrimination toward persons with HIV/AIDS, but there were no specific reports of disownment by families as reported in the past and no reports of violence targeting persons with HIV/AIDS.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

There were two reported cases of sorcery-related violence during the year. In both cases, violence was related to alleged involvement in sorcery and witchcraft and typically targeted the most vulnerable persons: young women, widows without male sons, and the elderly.


  • The Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP) and Kadere were the parliament’s two largest immediately after the April election, winning 8 seats each, while independents won 21. Days after the election, a new governing coalition coalesced around the relaunched Ownership, Unity, and Responsibility Party (Our Party) of former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
  • Sogavare won a fourth nonconsecutive term as premier after he was selected by the parliament in late April. SIDP leader Matthew Wale attempted to halt his selection in the courts, but his legal efforts were rejected in May.
  • In September, the Solomon Islands ended its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, shifting it to China. A group of MPs, including former prime minister Rick “Hou” Houenipwela, were dismissed from the cabinet after abstaining on the government’s decision.
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 3.00 3 4.00 4

The prime minister, who serves as the head of government, is elected by the National Parliament. Irregularities are frequent in the run-up to prime ministerial elections, known as “second elections.” Leading contenders usually separate into camps in Honiara’s major hotels and bid for the support of other members of Parliament (MPs) with promises of cash or ministerial portfolios.

Following the April 2019 general election, Manasseh Sogavare was elected, winning a fourth nonconsecutive term as prime minister. SIDP leader Matthew Wale attempted to stop Sogavare’s selection, saying that Sogavare relaunched the Ownership, Unity, and Responsibility Party (Our Party) too late to abide by a law requiring prime ministerial candidates to maintain party membership Sogavare was previously aligned with the SIDP before moving to Our Party after the election was held. Then governor general Frank Kabui ruled that Sogavare was eligible in late April, and the High Court rejected Wale’s legal petition against Sogavare in May.

Parliament also selects a governor general to represent the British monarch as head of state for five-year terms. The governor general appoints members of the cabinet on the advice of the prime minister. David Vunagi, a retired Anglican bishop, was named governor general in June 2019 and took office in July.

Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 3.00 3 4.00 4

The 50 members of the National Parliament are directly elected in single-seat constituencies by a simple majority vote to serve four-year terms. In the April 2019 legislative election, the SIDP and the Kadere Party obtained 8 seats each, while 21 seats went to independents another 6 parties won the remainder. In the days after the election, support among MPs shifted to the relaunched Our Party, which formed the country’s governing coalition along with the Kadere Party, the Democratic Alliance, and the Peoples First Party.

A Commonwealth observer mission commended the peaceful conduct of the election, but called for improvements in the voter registration process, along with expanded early voting options for individuals living overseas and for essential service personnel.

Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 3.00 3 4.00 4

The legal framework generally provides for democratic elections. The electoral rolls have been improved since the 2013 introduction of a biometric voter registration system. Nevertheless, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) found 4,000 instances of multiple voter registration during the 2018–19 registration period. The SIEC reported its findings to the police, but noted that many of these incidents would likely go uninvestigated for a lack of resources.


Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

A. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

B. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

C. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns in prisons and detention centers regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.

In 2017 the Office of the Public Prosecutor initiated a coroner’s inquiry into the 2016 death of a person held in pretrial detention. The report was completed and was submitted to the Office of the Chief Magistrate for review and possible action.

Administration: Authorities permit prisoners and detainees to submit complaints and request investigations of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The respective prison commanders screen complaints and requests made to the Professional Standards Unit of the Correctional Service, which investigates credible allegations of problematic conditions and documents the results in a publicly accessible manner. The Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Solicitor investigate credible allegations of misconduct made against Correctional Services officers.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent human rights observers, and such visits occurred during the year.

D. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally respected these prohibitions.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP), and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish police corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. A commissioner (normally a foreign resident), who reports to the minister of police, heads the RSIP force of approximately 1,500 members, 20 percent of whom are women. The RSIP completed the process of rearming two units ahead of the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) forces in 2017. The two units are a dignitary protection unit and the Police Response Team, which responds to civil unrest. The RSIP continued community consultations and public campaigns to discuss the need for limited rearmament and the controls in place.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand continued to provide support to the RSIP. Under the Solomon Islands Police Development Program, 40 unarmed Australian Federal Police officers provide capacity building and mentorship to the RSIP but are not involved in direct policing. The Australian Federal Police and the RSIP signed a memorandum of understanding in April to strengthen information sharing and enhance capacity building and professional development opportunities. New Zealand provides eight New Zealand police officers, who support community policing programs throughout the country.

The RSIP has an inspection unit to monitor police discipline and performance. Officials who violate civil liberties are subject to fines and jail sentences.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Only a magistrate or judge may issue warrants, although police have power to arrest without a warrant if they have reasonable belief a person committed a crime. The law requires detainees be brought promptly before a judge, and authorities respected this right. Delays sometimes arose after the preliminary hearing, but authorities brought detainees to court as soon as possible following arrest, especially if they were held without bail.

Police generally informed detainees promptly of the charges against them. The Public Solicitor’s Office provided legal assistance to indigent defendants, and detainees had prompt access to family members and counsel. There was a functioning system of bail for less serious cases, and police and courts frequently granted bail.

Australian legal advisers in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs helped develop the capacity of government lawyers and contributed to reducing the backlog of judicial cases.

Pretrial Detention: Delays in adjudication of the large number of cases before the courts resulted in lengthy pretrial detention for some detainees. Pretrial detainees comprised 50 percent of the prisoner population. The average length of time held in pretrial detention was approximately two years.

E. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Prisoners were not afforded timely trials due to a judicial backlog that resulted in long delays in bringing cases to trial.

Trial procedures normally operated in accordance with British common law, with a presumption of innocence and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges. Detainees had access to attorneys of their choice and the rights to be present at their own trial, access to free assistance of an interpreter, to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense, to confront witnesses, to present witnesses and evidence, to refrain from self-incrimination, and to appeal convictions. The law extends these rights to both citizens and noncitizens. Judges conduct trials and render verdicts. The courts provided an attorney at public expense for indigent defendants facing serious criminal charges as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

The constitution provides that any person whose rights or freedoms were contravened may apply directly to the High Court for redress. The High Court has taken a leading role in applying human rights principles in rulings.

PROPERTY RESTITUTION

F. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.


Positions in the procedures of the UN Human Rights Council

…sponsored the following Human Rights Council’s resolution(s) on Human Rights and Climate Change:

UPR Universal Periodic Review (see Part 2 of the country profile for any reference mentioned in this section)

… referred to climate change in its national report(s) to the UPR: for the first UPR cycle for the 2nd UPR cycle,

… accepted or noted a recommendation related to climate change during its review under the UPR

… will participate in the UPR in Jan-Feb 2021, with a deadline for submission of information by civil society on 18.06.2020


Solomon Islands Human Rights - History

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-
(a) . the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
(2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (7), (8) and (9) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or performance of the function of any public office or any public authority.
(3) Subject to the provision of subsection (9) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner in respect of access to shops, hotels, lodging-houses, public restaurants, eating-houses or places of public entertainment or in respect of access to places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of public funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
(d) for the application of customary law 2
(e) with respect to land, the tenure of land, the resumption and acquisition of land and other like purposes
(f) for the advancement of the more disadvantaged members of the community or
(g) where persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection may be subjected to any disability or restriction or may be accorded any privilege or advantage which, having regard to its nature and to special circumstances pertaining to those persons or to persons of any other such description, is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
(6) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) of this section to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualification specifically relating to race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of the government of Honiara city or any provincial government or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes, or who wishes to engage in any trade or business.
(7) Subsection (2) of this section shall not apply to anything which is expressly or by necessary implication authorised to be done by any such provision of law as is referred to in subsection (5) or (6) of this section.
(8) Subsection (2) of this section shall not affect any discretion relating to the institution, conduct or discontinuance of civil or criminal proceedings in any court that is vested in any person by or under this Constitution or any other law.
(9) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (4) of this section may be subjected to any restriction on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by section 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of this Constitution, being such a restriction as is authorised by section 9(2), 11(6), 12(2), 13(2) or 14(3), as the case may be. (Sec. 15)

Obligations of the State

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest
. (Sec. 3) 3

Obligations of the State

Any person any of whose rights or freedoms under this Chapter has been contravened shall be entitled to compensation for the contravention thereof from the person or authority which contravened it. (Sec. 17)

Obligations of Private Parties

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest
. (Sec. 3)

Judicial Protection

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (6) of this section, if any person alleges that any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 4 (inclusive) of this Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him (or, in the case of a person who is detained, if any other person alleges such a contravention in relation to the detained person) then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person (or that other person) may apply to the High Court for redress.
(2) The High Court shall have original jurisdiction-
(a) to hear and determine any application made by any person in pursuance of the preceding subsection
(b) to determine any question arising in the case of any person which is referred to it in pursuance of the next following subsection, and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions, including the payment of compensation, as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement of any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 (inclusive) of this Constitution:
Provided that the High Court may decline to exercise its powers under this subsection if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress for the contravention alleged are or have been available to the person concerned under any other law.
(3) If in any proceedings in any subordinate court any question arises as to the contravention of any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 (inclusive) of this Constitution, the person presiding in that court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court unless, in his opinion, the raising of the question is merely frivolous or vexatious.
(4) Any person aggrieved by any determination of the High Court under this section may appeal therefrom to the Court of Appeal:
Provided that no appeal shall lie from a determination of the High Court under this section dismissing an application on the ground that it is frivolous or vexatious.
(5) Parliament may confer upon the High Court powers additional to those conferred by this section for the purpose of enabling that court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section.
(6) Rules of court making provision with respect to the practise and procedure of the High Court in relation to the jurisdiction conferred on it by or under this section (including rules with respect to the time within which any application or reference shall or may be made or brought) may be made by the person or authority for the time being having power to make rules of court with respect to the practice and procedure of that court generally. (Sec. 18)

National Human Rights Bodies

(1) There shall be an Ombudsman, whose office shall be a public office.
(2) The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of a committee consisting of the Speaker, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission and the Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
… (Sec. 96)

National Human Rights Bodies

(1) The functions of the Ombudsman shall be to:-
(a) enquire into the conduct of any person to whom this section applies in the exercise of his office or authority, or abuse thereof
(b) assist in the improvement of the practices and procedures of public bodies and
(c) ensure the elimination of arbitrary and unfair decisions.
(2) Parliament may confer additional functions on the Ombudsman.
(3) This section applies to members of the public service, the Police Force, the Prisons Service, the government of Honiara city, provincial governments, and such other offices, commissions, corporate bodies or public agencies as may be prescribed by Parliament:
Provided that it shall not apply to the Governor-General or his personal staff or to the Director of Public Prosecutions or any person acting in accordance with his instructions.
(4) Nothing in this section or in any Act of Parliament enacted for the purposes of this Chapter shall confer on the Ombudsman any power to question or review any decision of any judge, magistrate or registrar in the exercise of his judicial functions. (Sec. 97)

Limitations and/or Derogations

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, .
the provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection of those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by an individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest. (Sec. 3)

Limitations and/or Derogations

.
(7) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5, 6(2), 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15 of this Constitution to the extent that the law in question makes in relation to any period of public emergency provision, or authorises the doing during any such period of any thing, that is reasonably justifiable in circumstances of any situation arising or existing during the period for the purpose of dealing with that situation.
… (Sec. 16)

Marriage and Family Life

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
… (Sec. 15) 5

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that –

(e) we shall ensure the participation of our people in the governance of their affairs and provide within the framework of our national unity for the decentralisation of power
… (Preamble)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.

(6) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) of this section to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualification specifically relating to race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of the government of Honiara city or any provincial government or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes, or who wishes to engage in any trade or business.
… (Sec. 15) 6

Political Rights and Association

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that -
(a) our government shall be based on democratic principles of universal suffrage and the responsibility of executive authorities to elected assemblies
… (Preamble)

Political Rights and Association

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-

(b) freedom of conscience of expression and of assembly and association
… (Sec. 3)

Political Rights and Association

(1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.
… (Sec. 13)

Political Rights and Association

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall be entitled to be registered as an elector if, and shall not be so entitled unless -
(a) he is a citizen of Solomon Islands and
(b) he has attained the age of eighteen years.
. (Sec. 55)

Political Rights and Association

(1) Any person who is registered as an elector in any constituency shall be entitled to vote in such manner as may be prescribed at any election for that constituency … (Sec. 56)

Electoral Bodies

(1) The Electoral Commission is established.
(2) The Commission comprises:
(a) a Chairperson and
(b) two othermembers and
(c) the Chief Electoral Officer appointed under section 57A.

(5) At least one member of the Commission must be a woman.
… (Sec. 57) 7

Electoral Bodies

(1) The Electoral Commission shall have general responsibility for, and shall supervise, the registration of electors for the election of members of Parliament and the conduct of elections of such members and the Commission shall have such powers and other functions relating to such registration and such elections as may be prescribed.
. (Sec. 58)

Head of State


(2) Her Majesty shall be the Head of State of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 1)

Head of State

(1) There shall be a Governor-General of Solomon Islands who shall be appointed by the Head of State in accordance with an address from Parliament and who shall be the representative of the Head of State in Solomon Islands.
(2) A person shall not be qualified for appointment to the office of Governor-General unless he is qualified for election as a member of Parliament under Chapter VI of this Constitution.
. (Sec. 27)

Government

(1) There shall be a Prime Minister who shall be elected as such by the members of Parliament from amongst their number in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 2 to this Constitution.
(2) There shall be, in addition to the office of Prime Minister, such other offices of Minister of the Government, not exceeding eleven or such greater number as Parliament may prescribe, as may be established by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister. Provided that one of such offices of Minister of the Government shall be that of Deputy Prime Minister.
(3) The Ministers other than the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, from among the members of Parliament: Provided that if occasion arises for making an appointment while Parliament is dissolved a person who was a member of Parliament immediately before the dissolution may be appointed. (Sec. 33)

Government

(1) There shall be a Cabinet for Solomon Islands, consisting of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers.
(2) The functions of the Cabinet shall be to advise the Governor-General in the government of Solomon Islands and the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament for any advice given to the Governor-General by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in the execution of his office.
… (Sec. 35)

Legislature

There shall be a national legislature for Solomon Islands, which shall consist of a single chamber and shall be known as the National Parliament of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 46)

Legislature

(1) Parliament shall consist of persons elected in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and, subject thereto, in such manner as may be prescribed.
(2) Each of the constituencies prescribed under section 54(1) of this Constitution shall return one member of Parliament. (Sec. 47)

Legislature

Subject to the provisions of the next following section, a person shall be qualified for election as a member of Parliament if, and shall not be so qualified unless -
(a) he is a citizen of Solomon Islands and
(b) he has attained the age of twenty-one years and
(c) he is registered as an elector, as prescribed by Parliament. (Sec. 48) 8

Legislature

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Solomon Islands.
… (Sec. 59)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-

(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,
… (Sec. 3)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description

(e) with respect to land, the tenure of land, the resumption and acquisition of land and other like purposes
… (Sec. 15) 9

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

The right to hold or acquire a perpetual interest in land shall vest in any person who is a Solomon Islander and only in such other person or persons as may be prescribed by Parliament. (Sec. 110)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

Parliament may, in regard to land which has ceased to be customary land:—
(a) provide for the conversion into a fixed-term interest of any perpetual interest in such land held by a person who is not entitled under the preceding section to hold such a perpetual interest
(b) provide for the compulsory acquisition where necessary of such land or any right over or interest in such land
(c) prescribe the criteria to be adopted in regard to the assessment and payment of compensation for such conversion or compulsory acquisition (which may take account of, but need not be limited to, the following factors: the purchase price, the value of improvements made between the date of purchase and the date of acquisition, the current use value of the land, and the fact of its abandonment or dereliction). (Sec. 111)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

Parliament shall provide, in relation to any compulsory acquisition of customary land or any right over or interest in it, that:-
(a) before such land is compulsorily acquired, there shall be prior negotiations with the owner of the land, right or interest
(b) the owner shall have a right of access to independent legal advice and
(c) so far as practicable the interest so acquired shall be limited to a fixed-term interest. (Sec. 112)

Protection from Violence

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-
(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Protection from Violence

(1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) No person shall be required to perform forced labour.
. (Sec. 6)

Protection from Violence

No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment. (Sec. 7)

Public Institutions and Services

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that –

(b) we shall uphold the principles of equality, social justice and the equitable distribution of incomes
… (Preamble)

Public Institutions and Services

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 132 of this Constitution, the law applicable to the grant and payment to any officer, or to his widow, children, dependants or personal representatives, of any pension, gratuity or other like allowance (in this section and in sections 131 and 132 of this Constitution referred to as an "award") in respect of the service of that officer in a public office shall be that in force on the relevant day or any later law not less favourable to the person concerned.
… (Sec. 130)

Public Institutions and Services

(1) The power to grant any award under any pensions law for the time being in force in Solomon Islands (other than an award to which, under that law, the person to whom it is payable is entitled as of right) and, in accordance with any provisions in that behalf in any such law, to withhold, reduce in amount or suspend any award payable under any such law shall vest in the Governor-General.

(3) In this section, "pensions law" means any law relating to the grant to any person, or to the widow, children, dependants or personal representatives of that person, of an award in respect of the services of that person in a public office. (Sec. 132)

Status of the Constitution

This Constitution is the supreme law of Solomon Islands and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. (Sec. 2)

Status of the Constitution

(1) Subject to this paragraph, the principles and rules of the common law and equity shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands, save in so far as:-
(a) they are inconsistent with this Constitution or any Act of Parliament
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 2)

Status of the Constitution

(1) Subject to this paragraph, customary law shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands.
(2) The preceding subparagraph shall not apply in respect of any customary law that is, and to the extent that it is, inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 3)

Customary Law

We the people of Solomon Islands, proud of the wisdom and the worthy customs of our ancestors, mindful of our common and diverse heritage and conscious of our common destiny, do now, under the guiding hand of God, establish the sovereign democratic State of Solomon Islands …
Agree and pledge that –
.
(d) we shall cherish and promote the different cultural traditions within Solomon Islands
. (Preamble)

Customary Law

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
(d) for the application of customary law 10 … (Sec. 15) 11

Customary Law

(1) Parliament shall make provision for the application of laws, including customary laws.
(2) In making provision under this section, Parliament shall have particular regard to the customs, values and aspirations of the people of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 75)

Customary Law

Until Parliament makes other provision under the preceding section, the provisions of Schedule 3 to this Constitution shall have effect for the purpose of determining the operation in Solomon Islands -
(a) of certain Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom mentioned therein
(b) of the principles and rules of the common law and equity
(c) of customary law and
(d) of the legal doctrine of judicial precedent. (Sec. 76)

Customary Law

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978(a) Solomon Islands shall be divided into Honiara city and provinces.
(2) Parliament shall by law -
.
(b) make provision for the government of Honiara city and the provinces and consider the role of traditional chiefs in the provinces. (Sec. 114)

Customary Law

(1) In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires—

“customary law” means the rules of customary law prevailing in an area of Solomon Islands
… (Sec. 144)

Customary Law

(1) Subject to this paragraph, the principles and rules of the common law and equity shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands, save in so far as:-

(c) in their application to any particular matter, they are inconsistent with customary law applying in respect of that matter.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 2)

Customary Law

(1) Subject to this paragraph, customary law shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands.
(2) The preceding subparagraph shall not apply in respect of any customary law that is, and to the extent that it is, inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
(3) An Act of Parliament may:-
(a) provide for the proof and pleading of customary law for any purpose
(b) regulate the manner in which or the purposes for which customary law may be recognised and
(c) provide for the resolution of conflicts of customary law.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 3)

Affirmative Action (Broadly)

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(f) for the advancement of the more disadvantaged members of the community or
(g) where persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection may be subjected to any disability or restriction or may be accorded any privilege or advantage which, having regard to its nature and to special circumstances pertaining to those persons or to persons of any other such description, is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
… (Sec. 15)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

(1) (a) Every person who is immediately before Independence Day an indigenous Solomon Islander shall become a citizen of Solomon Islands on Independence Day.
(b) Every person who was born in Solomon Islands before Independence Day and who has or had two grandparents who are or were members of a group, tribe or line indigenous to Papua New Guinea or the New Hebrides shall become a citizen of Solomon Islands on Independence Day.
(2) Every person who before Independence Day has made, or been included in, an application to the Government for citizenship of Solomon Islands containing the information specified in subsection (4) of this section and who at the time of making such application possessed any of the qualifications specified in subsection (3) of this section shall become a citizen of Solomon Islands on Independence Day.
(3) The qualifications referred to in subsection (2) of this section and subsection (1) of the next following section are that the person concerned, not being an indigenous Solomon Islander, is -
(a) a woman married to an indigenous Solomon Islander or
(b) a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person who was born in Solomon Islands or
(c) a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person having acquired such status under the British Nationality Acts 1948 to 1965(a) by virtue of his having been naturalised or registered under those Acts, or naturalised as a British subject before 1949, by the Governor of the former protectorate of the Solomon Islands or
(d) a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person whose father possesses, or at his death possessed, one of the qualifications specified in paragraph (b) or (c) or (d) of this subsection or
(e) a woman who has been married to a person who possesses, or at his death possesses, one of the qualifications specified in paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of this section or (f) a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person who was deemed to belong to Solomon Islands because such person -
(i) has lawfully resided in Solomon Islands for any period of seven years during which he has not been absent therefrom for a period or periods amounting in all to more than eighteen months and since the completion of such period of residence has not been ordinarily resident continuously for a period of two years or more in any other territory within the Commonwealth in circumstances in which he has acquired or retained a right of residence in that territory or
(ii) is the wife of a person to whom the foregoing subparagraph applies not living apart from such person under a decree of a court or a deed of separation or
(iii) is the Child, step-child or child adopted in a manner recognised by law under the age of eighteen years of a person to whom either of the foregoing subparagraphs applies.
(4) The information required to be contained in an application for the purposes of this section and the next following section is as follows -
(a) the name, date and place of birth (so far as is known) of the applicant, of any other person included in the application or of a minor on whose behalf the application is made, together with, where applicable, the date of naturalisation or registration
(b) a statement by the applicant whether or not he is including in his application his wife and minor children, if any, and in the case of an application including a wife, a statement by her that she consents to her inclusion in the application
(c) if the applicant is applying on grounds that his father was born, naturalised or registration in Solomon Islands, also the father's name, place and date of birth (so far as is known) and, if relevant, the date of the father's naturalisation or registration
(d) if the application is made by or on behalf of a woman on grounds of marriage to a man who, or whose father, was born, naturalised or registered in Solomon Islands, also the name, place and date of birth (so far as is known) and, if relevant, the date of naturalisation or registration of the man and, if necessary, his father
(e) a statement by the applicant that, if he is resident in Solomon Islands at the time of making application, he intends to continue such residence, or that, if he is not so resident at that time, he regards Solomon Islands as his home country
(f) a declaration by the applicant of his allegiance to Solomon Islands and his respect for the culture, the language and the way of life of Solomon Islands and
(g) a statement by the applicant that he intends to renounce any other nationality that he may hold at the time of making application.
. (Sec. 20)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

(1) Every person who immediately before the Independence Day possessed any of the qualifications specified in subsection (3) of the preceding section and who within the prescribed period has made, or been included in, an application to the Government for citizenship of Solomon Islands continuing the information specified in subsection (4) of the preceding section shall be registered as a citizen of Solomon Islands.
… (Sec. 21)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

Every person born on or after Independence Day, whether within or outside Solomon Islands, shall become a citizen of Solomon Islands at the date of his birth if at that date either of his parents is, or would but for his death have been, a citizen of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 22)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, any citizen of Solomon Islands who is a national of some other country shall cease to be a citizen of Solomon Islands at the expiry of two years after the date on which he acquired citizenship of Solomon Islands or attained the age of eighteen years, whichever is the later, or such longer period as may be prescribed by Parliament, unless before the expiry of that period he has renounced or lost the nationality of that other country or, if the law of that other country does not permit him to renounce that nationality, made such declaration as may be prescribed.
(2) Any person who, being aged eighteen years or more, acquired citizenship of Solomon Islands by virtue of section 20(2) or 21 of this Constitution and who is a national of some other country shall cease to be a citizen of Solomon Islands at the expiry of six months after the date on which he acquired citizenship of Solomon Islands or such longer period as may be prescribed by Parliament, unless before the expiry of that period he has renounced or lost the nationality of that other country or, if the law of that other country does not permit him to renounce that nationality, made such declaration as may be prescribed. (Sec. 23)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

Parliament may make provision -
(a) for the acquisition of citizenship of Solomon Islands by persons who are not eligible or who are no longer eligible to become citizens of Solomon Islands by virtue of the provisions of this Chapter
(b) for the deprivation and renunciation of citizenship of Solomon Islands held by any person who has attained the age of eighteen years. (Sec. 25)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

(1) In this Chapter –

"indigenous Solomon Islander" means any person who is or one of whose parents is or was, a British protected person and of a group, tribe or line indigenous to Solomon Islands:
(2) Any reference in this Chapter to the father of a person shall, in relation to a person born out of wedlock, be construed as a reference to the mother of that person.
. (Sec. 26)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 31(3) and 98(1) of, and paragraph 10 of Schedule 2 to, this Constitution, if any person alleges that any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and that his interests are being or are likely to be affected by such contravention, then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person may apply to the High Court for a declaration and for relief under this section.
(2) The High Court shall have jurisdiction, in any application made by any person in pursuance of the preceding subsection or in any other proceedings lawfully brought before the Court, to determine whether any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and to make a declaration accordingly:
Provided that the High Court shall not make a declaration in pursuance of the jurisdiction conferred by this subsection unless it is satisfied that the interests of the person by whom the application under the preceding subsection is made or, in the case of other proceedings before the Court, a party to those proceedings, are being or are likely to be affected.
(3) Where the High Court makes a declaration in pursuance of the preceding subsection that any provision of the Constitution has been contravened and the person by whom the application under subsection (1) of this section was made or, in the case of other proceedings before the Court, the party in those proceedings in respect of whom the declaration is made, seeks relief, the High Court may grant to that person such remedy, being a remedy available against any person in any proceedings in the High Court under any law for the time being in force in Solomon Islands, as the Court considers appropriate.
(4) Nothing in this section shall confer jurisdiction on the High Court to hear or determine any such question as is referred to in Section 52 of this Constitution otherwise than upon an application made in accordance with the provisions of that section.… (Sec. 83)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

(1) The High Court shall have jurisdiction to supervise any civil or criminal proceedings before any subordinate court and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of ensuring that justice is duly administered by any such court.
(2) Where any question as to the interpretation of any provision of this Constitution other than Chapter II arises in any subordinate court and the court is of opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court shall refer the question to the High Court.
(3) Where any question is referred to the High Court in pursuance of the preceding subsection, the High Court shall give its decision upon the question and the court in which the question arose shall dispose of the case in accordance with that decision or, if that decision is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeal. (Sec. 84)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that –

(b) we shall uphold the principles of equality, social justice and the equitable distribution of incomes
… (Preamble)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-
(a) . the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
(2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (7), (8) and (9) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or performance of the function of any public office or any public authority.
(3) Subject to the provision of subsection (9) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner in respect of access to shops, hotels, lodging-houses, public restaurants, eating-houses or places of public entertainment or in respect of access to places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of public funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
(d) for the application of customary law 2
(e) with respect to land, the tenure of land, the resumption and acquisition of land and other like purposes
(f) for the advancement of the more disadvantaged members of the community or
(g) where persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection may be subjected to any disability or restriction or may be accorded any privilege or advantage which, having regard to its nature and to special circumstances pertaining to those persons or to persons of any other such description, is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
(6) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) of this section to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualification specifically relating to race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of the government of Honiara city or any provincial government or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes, or who wishes to engage in any trade or business.
(7) Subsection (2) of this section shall not apply to anything which is expressly or by necessary implication authorised to be done by any such provision of law as is referred to in subsection (5) or (6) of this section.
(8) Subsection (2) of this section shall not affect any discretion relating to the institution, conduct or discontinuance of civil or criminal proceedings in any court that is vested in any person by or under this Constitution or any other law.
(9) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (4) of this section may be subjected to any restriction on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by section 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of this Constitution, being such a restriction as is authorised by section 9(2), 11(6), 12(2), 13(2) or 14(3), as the case may be. (Sec. 15)

Obligations of the State

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest
. (Sec. 3) 3

Obligations of the State

English

Any person any of whose rights or freedoms under this Chapter has been contravened shall be entitled to compensation for the contravention thereof from the person or authority which contravened it. (Sec. 17)

Obligations of Private Parties

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest
. (Sec. 3)

Judicial Protection

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (6) of this section, if any person alleges that any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 4 (inclusive) of this Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him (or, in the case of a person who is detained, if any other person alleges such a contravention in relation to the detained person) then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person (or that other person) may apply to the High Court for redress.
(2) The High Court shall have original jurisdiction-
(a) to hear and determine any application made by any person in pursuance of the preceding subsection
(b) to determine any question arising in the case of any person which is referred to it in pursuance of the next following subsection, and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions, including the payment of compensation, as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement of any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 (inclusive) of this Constitution:
Provided that the High Court may decline to exercise its powers under this subsection if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress for the contravention alleged are or have been available to the person concerned under any other law.
(3) If in any proceedings in any subordinate court any question arises as to the contravention of any of the provisions of sections 3 to 16 (inclusive) of this Constitution, the person presiding in that court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court unless, in his opinion, the raising of the question is merely frivolous or vexatious.
(4) Any person aggrieved by any determination of the High Court under this section may appeal therefrom to the Court of Appeal:
Provided that no appeal shall lie from a determination of the High Court under this section dismissing an application on the ground that it is frivolous or vexatious.
(5) Parliament may confer upon the High Court powers additional to those conferred by this section for the purpose of enabling that court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section.
(6) Rules of court making provision with respect to the practise and procedure of the High Court in relation to the jurisdiction conferred on it by or under this section (including rules with respect to the time within which any application or reference shall or may be made or brought) may be made by the person or authority for the time being having power to make rules of court with respect to the practice and procedure of that court generally. (Sec. 18)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

(1) There shall be an Ombudsman, whose office shall be a public office.
(2) The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of a committee consisting of the Speaker, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission and the Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
… (Sec. 96)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

(1) The functions of the Ombudsman shall be to:-
(a) enquire into the conduct of any person to whom this section applies in the exercise of his office or authority, or abuse thereof
(b) assist in the improvement of the practices and procedures of public bodies and
(c) ensure the elimination of arbitrary and unfair decisions.
(2) Parliament may confer additional functions on the Ombudsman.
(3) This section applies to members of the public service, the Police Force, the Prisons Service, the government of Honiara city, provincial governments, and such other offices, commissions, corporate bodies or public agencies as may be prescribed by Parliament:
Provided that it shall not apply to the Governor-General or his personal staff or to the Director of Public Prosecutions or any person acting in accordance with his instructions.
(4) Nothing in this section or in any Act of Parliament enacted for the purposes of this Chapter shall confer on the Ombudsman any power to question or review any decision of any judge, magistrate or registrar in the exercise of his judicial functions. (Sec. 97)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, .
the provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection of those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by an individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest. (Sec. 3)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

.
(7) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5, 6(2), 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15 of this Constitution to the extent that the law in question makes in relation to any period of public emergency provision, or authorises the doing during any such period of any thing, that is reasonably justifiable in circumstances of any situation arising or existing during the period for the purpose of dealing with that situation.
… (Sec. 16)

Marriage and Family Life

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
… (Sec. 15) 5

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

English

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that –

(e) we shall ensure the participation of our people in the governance of their affairs and provide within the framework of our national unity for the decentralisation of power
… (Preamble)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.

(6) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) of this section to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualification specifically relating to race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of the government of Honiara city or any provincial government or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes, or who wishes to engage in any trade or business.
… (Sec. 15) 6

Political Rights and Association

English

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that -
(a) our government shall be based on democratic principles of universal suffrage and the responsibility of executive authorities to elected assemblies
… (Preamble)

Political Rights and Association

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-

(b) freedom of conscience of expression and of assembly and association
… (Sec. 3)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.
… (Sec. 13)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall be entitled to be registered as an elector if, and shall not be so entitled unless -
(a) he is a citizen of Solomon Islands and
(b) he has attained the age of eighteen years.
. (Sec. 55)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) Any person who is registered as an elector in any constituency shall be entitled to vote in such manner as may be prescribed at any election for that constituency … (Sec. 56)

Electoral Bodies

English

(1) The Electoral Commission is established.
(2) The Commission comprises:
(a) a Chairperson and
(b) two othermembers and
(c) the Chief Electoral Officer appointed under section 57A.

(5) At least one member of the Commission must be a woman.
… (Sec. 57) 7

Electoral Bodies

English

(1) The Electoral Commission shall have general responsibility for, and shall supervise, the registration of electors for the election of members of Parliament and the conduct of elections of such members and the Commission shall have such powers and other functions relating to such registration and such elections as may be prescribed.
. (Sec. 58)

Head of State

English


(2) Her Majesty shall be the Head of State of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 1)

Head of State

English

(1) There shall be a Governor-General of Solomon Islands who shall be appointed by the Head of State in accordance with an address from Parliament and who shall be the representative of the Head of State in Solomon Islands.
(2) A person shall not be qualified for appointment to the office of Governor-General unless he is qualified for election as a member of Parliament under Chapter VI of this Constitution.
. (Sec. 27)

Government

English

(1) There shall be a Prime Minister who shall be elected as such by the members of Parliament from amongst their number in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 2 to this Constitution.
(2) There shall be, in addition to the office of Prime Minister, such other offices of Minister of the Government, not exceeding eleven or such greater number as Parliament may prescribe, as may be established by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister. Provided that one of such offices of Minister of the Government shall be that of Deputy Prime Minister.
(3) The Ministers other than the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, from among the members of Parliament: Provided that if occasion arises for making an appointment while Parliament is dissolved a person who was a member of Parliament immediately before the dissolution may be appointed. (Sec. 33)

Government

English

(1) There shall be a Cabinet for Solomon Islands, consisting of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers.
(2) The functions of the Cabinet shall be to advise the Governor-General in the government of Solomon Islands and the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament for any advice given to the Governor-General by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in the execution of his office.
… (Sec. 35)

Legislature

English

There shall be a national legislature for Solomon Islands, which shall consist of a single chamber and shall be known as the National Parliament of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 46)

Legislature

English

(1) Parliament shall consist of persons elected in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and, subject thereto, in such manner as may be prescribed.
(2) Each of the constituencies prescribed under section 54(1) of this Constitution shall return one member of Parliament. (Sec. 47)

Legislature

English

Subject to the provisions of the next following section, a person shall be qualified for election as a member of Parliament if, and shall not be so qualified unless -
(a) he is a citizen of Solomon Islands and
(b) he has attained the age of twenty-one years and
(c) he is registered as an elector, as prescribed by Parliament. (Sec. 48) 8

Legislature

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Solomon Islands.
… (Sec. 59)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-

(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,
… (Sec. 3)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description

(e) with respect to land, the tenure of land, the resumption and acquisition of land and other like purposes
… (Sec. 15) 9

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

The right to hold or acquire a perpetual interest in land shall vest in any person who is a Solomon Islander and only in such other person or persons as may be prescribed by Parliament. (Sec. 110)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

Parliament may, in regard to land which has ceased to be customary land:—
(a) provide for the conversion into a fixed-term interest of any perpetual interest in such land held by a person who is not entitled under the preceding section to hold such a perpetual interest
(b) provide for the compulsory acquisition where necessary of such land or any right over or interest in such land
(c) prescribe the criteria to be adopted in regard to the assessment and payment of compensation for such conversion or compulsory acquisition (which may take account of, but need not be limited to, the following factors: the purchase price, the value of improvements made between the date of purchase and the date of acquisition, the current use value of the land, and the fact of its abandonment or dereliction). (Sec. 111)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

Parliament shall provide, in relation to any compulsory acquisition of customary land or any right over or interest in it, that:-
(a) before such land is compulsorily acquired, there shall be prior negotiations with the owner of the land, right or interest
(b) the owner shall have a right of access to independent legal advice and
(c) so far as practicable the interest so acquired shall be limited to a fixed-term interest. (Sec. 112)

Protection from Violence

English

Whereas every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:-
(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Protection from Violence

English

(1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) No person shall be required to perform forced labour.
. (Sec. 6)

Protection from Violence

English

No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment. (Sec. 7)

Public Institutions and Services

English

We the people of Solomon Islands, …
AGREE AND PLEDGE that –

(b) we shall uphold the principles of equality, social justice and the equitable distribution of incomes
… (Preamble)

Public Institutions and Services

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 132 of this Constitution, the law applicable to the grant and payment to any officer, or to his widow, children, dependants or personal representatives, of any pension, gratuity or other like allowance (in this section and in sections 131 and 132 of this Constitution referred to as an "award") in respect of the service of that officer in a public office shall be that in force on the relevant day or any later law not less favourable to the person concerned.
… (Sec. 130)

Public Institutions and Services

English

(1) The power to grant any award under any pensions law for the time being in force in Solomon Islands (other than an award to which, under that law, the person to whom it is payable is entitled as of right) and, in accordance with any provisions in that behalf in any such law, to withhold, reduce in amount or suspend any award payable under any such law shall vest in the Governor-General.

(3) In this section, "pensions law" means any law relating to the grant to any person, or to the widow, children, dependants or personal representatives of that person, of an award in respect of the services of that person in a public office. (Sec. 132)

Status of the Constitution

English

This Constitution is the supreme law of Solomon Islands and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. (Sec. 2)

Status of the Constitution

English

(1) Subject to this paragraph, the principles and rules of the common law and equity shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands, save in so far as:-
(a) they are inconsistent with this Constitution or any Act of Parliament
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 2)

Status of the Constitution

English

(1) Subject to this paragraph, customary law shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands.
(2) The preceding subparagraph shall not apply in respect of any customary law that is, and to the extent that it is, inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 3)

Customary Law

English

We the people of Solomon Islands, proud of the wisdom and the worthy customs of our ancestors, mindful of our common and diverse heritage and conscious of our common destiny, do now, under the guiding hand of God, establish the sovereign democratic State of Solomon Islands …
Agree and pledge that –
.
(d) we shall cherish and promote the different cultural traditions within Solomon Islands
. (Preamble)

Customary Law

English

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (5), (6) and (9) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

(4) In this section, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision-

(c) for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in the preceding subsection (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description
(d) for the application of customary law 10 … (Sec. 15) 11

Customary Law

English

(1) Parliament shall make provision for the application of laws, including customary laws.
(2) In making provision under this section, Parliament shall have particular regard to the customs, values and aspirations of the people of Solomon Islands. (Sec. 75)

Customary Law

English

Until Parliament makes other provision under the preceding section, the provisions of Schedule 3 to this Constitution shall have effect for the purpose of determining the operation in Solomon Islands -
(a) of certain Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom mentioned therein
(b) of the principles and rules of the common law and equity
(c) of customary law and
(d) of the legal doctrine of judicial precedent. (Sec. 76)

Customary Law

English

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978(a) Solomon Islands shall be divided into Honiara city and provinces.
(2) Parliament shall by law -
.
(b) make provision for the government of Honiara city and the provinces and consider the role of traditional chiefs in the provinces. (Sec. 114)

Customary Law

English

(1) In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires—

“customary law” means the rules of customary law prevailing in an area of Solomon Islands
… (Sec. 144)

Customary Law

English

(1) Subject to this paragraph, the principles and rules of the common law and equity shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands, save in so far as:-

(c) in their application to any particular matter, they are inconsistent with customary law applying in respect of that matter.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 2)

Customary Law

English

(1) Subject to this paragraph, customary law shall have effect as part of the law of Solomon Islands.
(2) The preceding subparagraph shall not apply in respect of any customary law that is, and to the extent that it is, inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
(3) An Act of Parliament may:-
(a) provide for the proof and pleading of customary law for any purpose
(b) regulate the manner in which or the purposes for which customary law may be recognised and
(c) provide for the resolution of conflicts of customary law.
… (Schedule 3, Sec. 3)


Human rights in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is a sovereign country in the South West Pacific consisting of many islands with a population of 561,231 (2013). It became self-governing from the United Kingdom in 1976 after three previous attempts at forming a Constitution. [1] The Constitution of Solomon Islands was enacted in 1978. This however led to conflicts between cultures and armed conflict in the late 1990s forced a review of the 1978 Constitution. [2] This review resulted in the Federal Constitution of the Solomon Islands Bill 2004 (SI) and various other amendments. The Human Rights Chapter, however, remained unchanged.

As per The Constitution of Solomon Islands Statutory Instruments [3] Chapter II outlines the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual:

  1. Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual
  2. Protection of Right to Life
  3. Protection of Right to Personal Liberty
  4. Protection from Slavery and Forced Labour
  5. Protection from Inhumane Treatment
  6. Protection from Deprivation of Property
  7. Protection for Privacy of Home and other Property
  8. Provisions to secure Protection of Law
  9. Protection of Freedom of Conscience
  10. Protection of Freedom of Expression
  11. Protection of Freedom of Assembly and Association
  12. Protection of Freedom of Movement
  13. Protection from Discrimination of Grounds of Race Etc.
  14. Provisions for periods of Public Emergency
  15. Compensation for Contravention of Rights and Freedoms
  16. Enforcement of Protective Provisions
  17. Interpretations and Savings

However, there are Human Rights concerns and issues in regards to education, water, sanitation, women and persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)


Solomon Islands Human Rights - History

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1997.

Solomon Islands, with its approximately 400,000 people, is an archipelago stretching over 840 miles in the South Pacific. Its government is a modified parliamentary system consisting of a single-chamber legislative assembly of 47 members. Executive authority lies with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The Prime Minister, elected by a majority vote of Parliament, selects his own Cabinet. Political legitimacy rests on direct election by secret ballot. There have been four general elections since independence in 1978, most recently in June 1993.

A police force of about 500 men under civilian control is responsible for law enforcement. There were occasional reports of police abuse of human rights.

About 85 percent of the population engages to some extent in subsistence farming, obtaining food by gardening and fishing, and has little involvement in the cash economy. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of the working population (15 years and older) are engaged in nonsubsistence production. Although exports, particularly of unprocessed logs, have boomed, the number of wage earners has remained unchanged for the past several years, despite high population growth.

Most basic individual rights are provided for in the Constitution, respected by authorities, and defended by an independent judiciary. Discrimination and violence against women remain problems, and the Government on occasion has imposed restrictions on the media. There is a constitutionally provided ombudsman to look into and provide protection against improper or unlawful administrative treatment.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

These practices are prohibited by law. There were a few complaints of excessive use of force by police in making arrests. These are handled either by the police's internal investigations office or by the courts. In one instance, the Honiara magistrate's court in August fined a police constable for striking a drunk with his baton when arresting him.

Prison conditions meet minimum international standards. Prisons are overcrowded, and new facilities are under construction at the central prison in Rove. The new prison complex, due to open in 1997, is designed to provide separate facilities for short-, medium-, and long-term prisoners, as well as for juvenile offenders. Since there are no human rights organizations in Solomon Islands, the question of whether the Government would permit visits by human rights monitors has never arisen. A government-appointed Committee of Mercy, comprised of church and social leaders, recommends pardons for rehabilitated prisoners.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

There was no evidence of politically motivated arrests or detentions. Exile is not practiced.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary and it is independent in practice.

The judicial system consists of a High Court and magistrates' courts. Accused persons are entitled to counsel. The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of arrests. Officials found to have violated civil liberties are subject to fines and jail sentences.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

In addition to legal provisions, the traditional culture provides strong protection against these types of abuses. A constitutionally provided ombudsman, with the power of subpoena, can investigate complaints of official abuse, mistreatment, or unfair treatment. While the Ombudsman's office has potentially far-ranging powers, it is limited by a shortage of investigators and other resources.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Government generally respects the constitutional provisions for freedom of speech and of the press. The media comprise the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), a statutory body that comes directly under the Prime Minister's office and whose radio broadcasts are heard throughout the country a privately owned FM radio station and three privately owned weekly or semiweekly newspapers. Given the high rate of illiteracy, the SIBC is more influential than the print media. The Department of Information in the Prime Minister's office publishes a monthly newspaper which is strongly progovernment. At least two nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) publish periodic news journals their environmental reporting frequently is critical of the Government's logging policy and foreign logging companies' practices. In addition to the three established newspapers, a newspaper in Solomon Islands Pidgin, the language understood by most of the population, began semiweekly publication in late 1996. A private company has been given a license to begin limited television operations in 1997.

The state-owned SIBC is relatively bias free. In April the Prime Minister banned SIBC from broadcasting any statements by the Honiara-based spokesman of the Papua New Guinea secessionist movement, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). This action followed demands from the Papua New Guinea Government that the Solomon Islands not allow BRA rebels to operate in its territory. In May, following a news report that the Government believed unfounded and prejudicial to the national security, the SIBC governing board directed that all news and current affairs programs have executive management clearance before being broadcast. Several SIBC newswriters and producers subsequently staged a short sit-in in protest against management statements that adversely reflected on their professionalism. The Solomon Islands Media Association also reacted strongly, saying that the prescreening of news broadcasts was unnecessary.

The Government is acutely sensitive to international media coverage of the politically sensitive logging issue. Although journalists do not require visas, the Government must clear any filming, and Australian broadcast media representatives were initially denied permission to enter the country on the grounds that the logging subject already had been thoroughly covered. Two journalists later entered as tourists and used small video cameras. Their report, which was broadcast in Australia in August, highlighted an apparent conflict of interest in that the Prime Minister's logging company had received 100 percent tax exemptions on its exports. The Government reacted angrily to the apparent violation of immigration law.

b. Freeedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of association, and this right is freely exercised. Demonstrators must obtain permits, but permits are not known to have been denied on political grounds.

The law provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this provision in practice.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government places neither legal nor administrative restrictions on the movement of citizens within or out of the country. Native-born citizens may not be deprived of citizenship on any grounds. Following several instances of attempted illegal immigration, the Government banned individuals from all Caribbean and African countries, and from the Pacific Island nations of Kiribati and Nauru, from visiting without prior approval of the Director of Immigration.

The Government provides first asylum to approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people from Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Island, who fled the conflict there several years earlier. Although they have not been granted formal refugee status, they have been allowed to remain. Most reside in Honiara with friends, while several hundred live in Red Cross-administered care centers elsewhere. The Government cooperated with the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees in locating asylum in the Netherlands for the Honiara-resident spokesman for the Bougainville rebels in May when his safety could no longer be assured.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government.

Citizens have the right to change their government through periodic free elections. Since independence in 1978, there have been four parliamentary elections, most recently in June 1993, and several elections for provincial and local councils. On four occasions changes of government resulted from either parliamentary votes of no confidence or the resignation of the Prime Minister. Suffrage is universal over 18 years of age.

While the country's democratic commitment appears to remain strong, it was brought into question when the Deputy Prime Minister publicly stated in July that party politics destabilizes the country and causes disunity among the people. He favored instead a one-party system that would rule the country "intelligently."

Traditional male dominance has limited the role of women in government. Only 1 of the 47 members of Parliament is a woman.

Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

While there are no restrictions on the formation of local organizations to monitor and report on human rights, none has been established to date. There were no known requests for investigation by outside human rights organizations.

Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution provides that no person--regardless of race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or disabilities--shall be treated in a discriminatory manner in respect of access to public places. The Constitution further prohibits any laws which would have discriminatory effects, and provides that no person should be treated in a discriminatory manner by anyone acting in an official capacity. Despite constitutional and legal protections, women remain the victims of discrimination in this tradition-based society. Due to high rates of unemployment, there are a limited number of jobs available to the disabled.

While actual statistical data are scarce, incidents of wife beating and wife abuse appear to be common. In the rare cases that are reported, charges are often dropped by the women before the court appearance or are settled out of court. Police are reluctant to interfere in what they perceive as domestic disputes. In addition, many of the laws benefiting women derive from the British tradition and are viewed by many Solomon Islanders as "foreign laws" not reflective of their own customs and traditions. The magistrates' courts deal with physical abuse of women as with any other assault, although prosecutions are rare.

The law accords women equal legal rights. However, in this traditional society men are dominant, and women are limited to customary family roles. This situation has prevented women from taking more active roles in economic and political life. A shortage of employment opportunities throughout the country has inhibited the entry of women into the work force. The majority of women are illiterate this is attributed in large part to cultural barriers. According to a 1995 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report on human development, Solomon Islands ranked very low on the gender empowerment measure that examines women's ability to participate in economic and political life. The National Council of Women and other NGO's attempt to make women more aware of their legal rights through seminars, workshops and other activities. The government's Women Development Division also addresses women's issues.

Within the limits of its resources, the Government is committed to the welfare and protection of the rights of children. There is no compulsory education, and, according to some estimates, only 60 percent of school age children have access to primary education the percentages of those attending secondary and tertiary institutions are much smaller. Children are respected and protected within the traditional extended-family system, in accordance with a family's financial resources and access to services. As a result, virtually no children are homeless or abandoned. Although some cases of child abuse are reported, there is no societal pattern of abuse. The Constitution grants children the same general rights and protection as adults. Existing laws are designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, and neglect.

There is no law or national policy on the disabled, and no legislation mandates access for the disabled. Their protection and care are left to the traditional extended family and nongovernmental organizations. With high unemployment countrywide and few jobs available in the formal sector, most disabled persons, particularly those in rural areas, do not find work outside the family structure. The Solomon Islands Red Cross society led private fund-raising efforts to build a new national center for disabled children, completing the first phase in this campaign by year's end.

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution implicitly recognizes the right of workers to form or join unions, to choose their own representatives, to determine and pursue their own views and policies, and to engage in political activities. The courts have confirmed these rights. Only about 10 to 15 percent of the population participate in the formal sector of the economy. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of wage earners are organized (90 percent of employees in the public sector and about 50 percent of those in the private sector).

The law allows strikes, but there were none of note in 1996. The unions seldom resort to strikes, preferring instead to negotiate. Disputes are usually referred quickly to the Trade Disputes Panel (TDP) for arbitration, either before or during a strike. In practice, the small percentage of the work force in formal employment means that employers have ample replacement workers if disputes are not resolved quickly. Employees, however, are protected from arbitrary dismissal or lockout while the TDP is deliberating.

Unions are free to affiliate internationally, and the largest trade union, the Solomon Islands' National Union of Workers, is affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions, the South Pacific Oceanic Council of Trade Unions, and the Commonwealth Trade Union Congress.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Trade Disputes Act of 1981 provides for the rights to organize and to bargain collectively and unions exercise these rights frequently.

Wages and conditions of employment are determined by collective bargaining. If a dispute between labor and management cannot be settled between the two sides, it is referred to the TDP for arbitration. The three-member TDP, comprising a chairman appointed by the judiciary, a labor representative, and a business representative, is independent and neutral.

The law protects workers against antiunion activity, and there are no areas where union activity is officially discouraged.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except as part of a court sentence or order, and this prohibition is observed.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law forbids child labor by children under the age of 12, except light agriculture or domestic work performed in the company of parents. Children under age 15 are barred from work in industry or on ships those under age 18 may not work underground or in mines. The Labor Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry is responsible for enforcing child labor laws. Given low wages and high unemployment, there is little incentive to employ child labor.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum hourly wage rate was raised in 1996 from its 1988 rate of .22 (0.74 Solomon Islands dollars) to .42 (1.50 Solomon Islands dollars) for all workers except those in the fishing and agricultural sectors, who now receive .34 (1.20 Solomon Islands dollars). Even at the new rate, the legal minimum wage is not sufficient to support an urban family living entirely on the cash economy. However, most families are not dependent solely on wages for their livelihoods.

The Labor Act of 1969, as amended, and the Employment Act of 1981, as well as other laws, regulate premium pay, sick leave, the right to paid vacations, and other conditions of service. The standard workweek is 45 hours and is limited to 6 days per week. There are provisions for premium pay for overtime and holiday work and for maternity leave.

Both an active labor movement and an independent judiciary ensure widespread enforcement of labor laws in major state and private enterprises. The Commissioner of Labor, the Public Prosecutor, and the police are responsible for enforcing labor laws. However, they usually react to complaints rather than routinely monitoring adherence to the law. The extent to which the law is enforced in smaller establishments and in the subsistence sector is unclear. Safety and health laws appear to be adequate. Malaria is endemic in Solomon Islands and affects the health of many employees. Agricultural workers have a high risk of contracting malaria.


Solomon Islands — History and Culture


The Solomon Islands is a fascinating archipelago. Not only are the local traditions and customs still very much practiced on a daily basis, but modern European influences are also found. The country is more renowned for its recent upheavals, which have been stopped for the time being.

History

At the time the first Europeans began visiting the Solomon Islands, the country was nothing more than separate Pacific islands notorious for cannibalism and headhunting. Spanish explorers were the first to visit the archipelago in the 16th century. It wasn’t until 1893 that Britain declared the Solomon Islands as a protectorate. This was implemented to stop the ‘blackbirding’ trade, which saw many native islanders taken as slaves to the agricultural plantations of Fiji and Australia.

Over the next 10 years, more islands became part of the Solomon Islands British protectorate. By 1900, the areas formerly administered by Germany were handed over to the British. Missionaries, whose attempts to spread Christianity prior to 1893 led to revolts by locals, began to successfully convert the native population to Christianity. Large scale plantation firms also settled in the Solomon Islands at the beginning of the 20th century. Coconut plantations became the main source of income for locals.

WWII saw the stoppage of most plantations across the Solomon Islands. Expatriate workers were forced to evacuate to Australia or New Zealand. Fierce battles, such as the Battle of Guadalcanal, raged on between 1942 and 1945. Many thousands of soldiers and native civilians lost their lives during the Solomon Islands campaign. Visiting the Guadalcanal American War Memorial is a must.

Following the war, the Solomon Islands enjoyed a more stable administration, resulting in the increase in governmental independence. However, it wasn’t until 1976 that Britain granted the Solomon Islands full independence. This was greatly influenced by the independence of Papua New Guinea from Australia the year before.

However, since independence, the Solomon Islands have experienced anything but smooth sailing. Ethnic tensions led to civil unrest in the late 1990s and this is still simmering today. Large scale rioting rocked the capital, Honiara, in 2006, but eventually the violence was quelled thanks to intervention from the United Nations, led by Australian, New Zealand, and Fijian forces. In 2007, a horrific tsunami and earthquake hit the archipelago, resulting in more than 50 deaths and millions of dollars in damage. Visit the National Museum of Solomon Islands (Mendana Avenue, Honiara) for further information about the country’s history.

Culture

Due to European influences throughout the Solomon Islands’ history, Christianity is the predominant faith in the country. More than 95 percent of the population follows some sort of Christianity, including South Seas Evangelists, and Catholics. Traditional culture is still prevalent throughout the country, but traditional lifestyles exist side-by-side with European influences.

In the rural areas of the country, tribal customs are the most important social norms. Traditional bartering systems are still used between many of the village areas. Even the village life is relatively similar to that of the time of pre-European arrival. Items are made from local leaves and grasses, and traditional music is still heard. In addition, the ancient form of the Solomon Islands dance can also be found.


Human Rights Council Reviews Solomon Islands

On January 25, 2016, the Solomon Islands’ human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.

The UPR is an opportunity to report on the implementation of certain recommendations as well as the general state of human rights in the country subject to review. The process stresses dialogue and a sharing of knowledge on both local and global levels. There are five phases of participation in the Universal Periodic Review Preparation, Interaction, Consideration, Adoption, and Implementation. In total, these five phases amount to a 24-month campaign that can educate, engage, and empower Indigenous Peoples to connect issues at the grassroots level with global governmental responsibility based on recommendations drafted in their own communities and countries.

During Solomon Islands’ review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the country’s predominantly indigenous population of 600.000 people who speak 120 different languages across 347 inhabited islands. The largest non-Solomon Islander populations consist of Polynesian and i-Kiribati peoples, who have often been brought to the Solomon Islands through British colonialism. Although the country is predominantly Indigenous, the Solomon Islands has yet to ratify many major treaties, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Particularly rural and remote communities have struggled to achieve human rights, especially with mounting struggle created by industrial logging, extractive mining, and most significantly to the island nation, climate change.

Cultural Survival is one of the seven organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the status of the recommendations made in the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:

  • To ratify and implement major international human rights treaties, in particular ILO no. 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Argentina, Slovenia, Iraq, Benin, Philippines, Djibouti, Morocco, Nigeria).
  • To further its commitment to gender equality and the equal rights of women and children, with specific regard to rural areas (Morocco).
  • To use the advantage of its matrilineal society to improve women’s access to power, especially in relation to land issues, sanitation and family rights (Jamaica).
  • To enhance the access and fairness of the formal justice system, especially in regards to rural areas and through the establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Committees (Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, France).
  • To establish independent human rights institutions and enact legislation that ensure that corporations respect human and environmental rights and directly addresses the displacements caused by climate change and natural disasters (New Zealand, Switzerland, Djibouti).

These recommendations are given to encourage the government to improve their human rights records, and to provide the opportunity for citizens to set up specific goals. These reviews provide the tools and information to continue to advocate for change and to hold, in this case, the Solomon Islands, accountable to its commitment to human rights.

There are many different ways in which civil society, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, can use this information to strengthen commitment to human rights and hold their governments accountable in implementing UPR recommendations.

By publicizing the recommendations and commitments made by the country involved, and raising awareness of the envisioned benchmarks, civil society can make the government accountable to its citizens, as well as increase the participation of Indigenous and other marginalized citizens in the process of creating, assessing, and evaluating these recommendations. This is possible through radio shows, press releases, publications, speaker events, festivals, email blasts, social media campaigns, and community organizing as examples.


  • To become a part of the implementation of the recommendations. To ensure the sustainability and success of these recommendations Indigenous citizens and their organizations need to part of or lead the implementation. This is possible through advocating for transparency, inclusion, and creating awareness and accountability. As the inclusion of Indigenous voices is in itself a recommendation, it is important to hold the country accountable.

  • Besides implementing recommendations, Indigenous citizens and their organizations should also be part of monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on the implementation of these recommendations. One way of vocalizing Indigenous concerns is through presenting at the Human Rights Council, which convenes three times a year.

Solomon Islands civil society groups and local organizations can read UPR Info’s “Civil Society Follow Up Kit” to learn more about how to implement UPR recommendations on the ground in their country.

Ultimately, the UPR process is an opportunity for Indigenous communities to vocalize their concerns and experiences, create action plans, and ensure implementation and accountability.


2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is a constitutional multiparty parliamentary democracy. Observers considered the 2014 parliamentary election generally free and fair, although there were incidents of vote buying. Parliament elected Manasseh Sogavare as prime minister, and he formed a coalition government.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Violence and discrimination against women remained the most significant human rights problem in the country.

Other human rights problems during the year included lengthy pretrial detention and government corruption.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no confirmed reports government officials employed them. A few detainees alleged mistreatment by police during interrogation, but the allegations were difficult to evaluate because of a lack of substantiating evidence.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards.

Physical Conditions: There was a reported death of one person held in pretrial detention. Police have not released the results of the postmortem examination or investigation.

Administration: Authorities permitted prisoners and detainees to submit complaints and request investigations of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The respective prison commanders screened the complaints and requests. The Professional Standards Unit of the Correctional Service and the Office of the Ombudsman investigated credible allegations of inhuman conditions and documented the results in a publicly accessible manner. The government, through the judiciary and Office of the Ombudsman, investigated and monitored prison conditions.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent human rights observers, and such visits occurred during the year. The International Committee of the Red Cross covered costs for family visits to long-term prisoners from other provinces held in Honiara.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP), and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish police corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. A commissioner (normally a foreign resident), who reports to the minister of police, heads the RSIP force of 1,353 members, including 266 women. The RSIP is beginning the process of rearmament in preparation for the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) forces in 2017. Only three units within the force would be armed: the airport police, a dignitary protection unit, and the Police Response Team, which responds to civil unrest. The RSIP has been conducting community consultations and public campaigns to discuss the need for limited rearmament and the controls that would be in place.

A unit of 97 RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) officers supported the RSIP. The RAMSI/PPF officers retained executive powers, but generally did not do frontline policing. They acted in advisory roles within the police force and continued to exercise the armed response aspect of policing when necessary. The PPF continued to focus on working in partnership with the RSIP to build the capacity of its officers and to assist with logistical challenges. The RAMSI/PPF was the only armed security force in the country following withdrawal of the RAMSI military contingent in 2013, although they provide training and support to rearm the RSIP. The RAMSI/PPF ended its presence in Gizo in April as part of its staged withdrawal. Australia consulted closely with the government to design a new policing, justice, and governance programs in preparation for the departure of RAMSI.

The RSIP continued to lack capacity to conduct investigations and prepare reports despite increased recruitment of investigators. The police service has an inspection unit to monitor police discipline and performance. Officials who violate civil liberties are subject to fines and jail sentences.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Only a magistrate or judge may issue warrants, although police have power to arrest without a warrant if they have reasonable belief a person committed a crime. The law requires detainees be brought promptly before a judge. Authorities respected this right. Delays sometimes arose after the preliminary hearing, but authorities brought detainees to court as soon as possible following arrest, especially if they were held without bail.

Police generally informed detainees promptly of the charges against them. The Public Solicitor's Office provided legal assistance to indigent defendants, and detainees had prompt access to family members and counsel. There was a functioning system of bail for nonserious cases, and police and courts frequently granted bail.

During the year the Australian government provided 15 legal advisers under the Solomon Islands Justice Program. Three worked with correctional services, and 12 worked in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, including in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. They included a chief magistrate, a High Court judge, lawyers, and training and finance advisers. Advisers helped develop the capacity of government lawyers and contributed to reducing the backlog of cases.

Pretrial Detention: Delays in adjudication of the large number of cases before the courts resulted in lengthy pretrial detention for some detainees. Pretrial detainees comprised 50 percent of the prisoner population. The average length of time held in pretrial detention was approximately two years.

Detainee's Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained were entitled to challenge in court the legal basis of their detention and obtain prompt release if found unlawfully detained.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.

The law provides for the right to a fair, public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Nonetheless, prisoners were not afforded timely trials due to a judicial backlog that resulted in long delays in bringing cases to trial.

Trial procedures normally operated in accordance with British common law, with a presumption of innocence and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges. Detainees had access to attorneys of their choice and the right to be present at their own trial, access government-held evidence, prepare a defense, confront witnesses, present witnesses and evidence, refrain from self-incrimination, and appeal convictions. The law extends these rights to all citizens. Judges conduct trials and render verdicts. The courts provided an attorney at public expense for indigent defendants facing serious criminal charges as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

The constitution provides that any person whose rights or freedoms were contravened may apply directly to the High Court for redress. The High Court has taken a leading role in applying human rights principles in rulings.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of speech and press.

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. The internet was available and widely used in urban areas, although 78 percent of the country's population lived in rural areas. Despite some improvements in access in rural areas, most rural dwellers did not have internet access. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 10 percent of the population had access to the internet in 2015.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights. Demonstrators must obtain permits, which the government generally granted.

c. Freedom of Religion

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. The government cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

Internally Displaced Persons

In March 2015 Cyclone Pam struck the east of the country and damaged or destroyed 1,500 homes. Most of the victims rebuilt semipermanent homes or relocated to homes of relatives. Unlike in previous years, there were no new internally displaced persons due to cyclones.

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for granting asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government did not grant refugee status or asylum during the year.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot based on universal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Observers regarded the 2014 national parliamentary election as generally free and fair, although there was evidence of vote buying. The elections were the first the government held following the withdrawal of the RAMSI military peacekeeping component. The government, with significant donor support, conducted biometric voter registration to clean electoral rolls. While the new rolls eliminated the risk of multiple voting, the Commonwealth Observer Group reported that members of parliament used rural constituency development funds to buy political support. The post-election formation of the government was also marked by allegations foreign and national business interests offered corrupt payments to elected members of parliament. Following the election parliament elected Manasseh Sogavare as prime minister. An investigation into an alleged politically motivated shooting during the formation of the coalition government in 2014 led to five persons being charged, although four were freed on bail.

Political Parties and Political Participation: Political parties operated without restriction, but they were institutionally weak, with frequent shifts in political coalitions and unstable parliamentary majorities. In 2014 parliament passed a Political Parties Integrity Law to formalize and strengthen political parties. The High Court subsequently upheld the legality of the law. The law faced its first application in October 2015 when several members of parliament left the coalition government without formally withdrawing from their parties through the Political Parties Registry. The registrar warned the members of parliament they faced potential suspension but took no disciplinary action. A parliamentary committee was reviewing the Political Parties Integrity Law and the Electoral Act to look for ways to increase political stability.

Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit participation of women and minorities in the political process however, traditional male dominance limited the role of women in government. There was one woman in the 50-member parliament and two female permanent secretaries. There were no female judges on the High Court. Government measures to increase the number of women in politics, including the Political Parties Integrity Law, had so far not delivered the desired result. Civil society groups such as the Young Women's Parliamentary Group continued to advocate for more leadership positions for women.

There was one minority (non-Melanesian) member of parliament.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were reports of government corruption during the year. Prime Minister Sogavare led efforts to engage with the private sector and civil society to formulate a National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a permanent parliamentary committee established by the constitution with a mandate to examine and report to parliament on public accounts and national property. In September 2015 the National Parliament joined a network of other Pacific islands parliaments to strengthen its ability to hold government accountable through the PAC.

Corruption: Corruption was a pervasive problem in the government, especially in the forestry and fishing sectors. Transparency International's 2013 Global Corruption Barometer reported that one in three public servants had sought a bribe in exchange for a service. In October authorities arrested and charged a senior government official with several counts of official corruption after a joint RSIP and Ministry of Finance taskforce discovered he misappropriated state money in the tender process.

Police corruption was not a serious problem during the year. Some observers criticized the police for being more loyal to their respective ethnic group or extended family (wantok), than to the country as a whole.

Financial Disclosure: Public officials were subject to financial disclosure laws under the leadership code of conduct. The Office of the Leadership Code Commission (LCC) investigates misconduct involving members of parliament or senior civil servants. If the LCC finds conclusive evidence of misconduct, it sends the matter to the Department of Public Prosecution, which may proceed with legal charges. The LCC chair and two part-time commissioners constitute a tribunal with power to screen certain cases of misconduct and apply fines of up to Solomon Islands Dollars (SBD) 5,000 ($625) for members of parliament or senior civil servants. In April 2015 the LCC chairperson said the LCC lacked adequate funds to carry out its mandate. The Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for investigating public complaints of government maladministration.

Public Access to Information: No law provides for public access to government information.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were somewhat cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The constitution provides for an ombudsperson with power to subpoena and investigate complaints of official abuse, mistreatment, or unfair treatment. Although the Office of the Ombudsman has potentially far-ranging powers and operated without governmental or political party interference, a lack of resources limited its effectiveness.

In 2012 the government officially disbanded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed in 2008 to assess the causes and impact of violence during the ethnic crisis. The action occurred after the commission submitted a report on its findings and recommendations to the prime minister. In 2013 the editor of the report, frustrated by the government's delay in publishing it, released an unauthorized digital version to the public. Many believed the government's delay was due to concern the report would reignite ethnic tension and possible compensation claims. Prime Minister Sogavare said his government would implement findings from the truth and reconciliation report and released a budget with funding for reconciliation programs.

The government launched its Solomon Islands Peacebuilding Policy in 2015, and during the year endorsed a UN Peacebuilding Program that aims to establish sustainable peace after the tensions. In July the government staged a national healing and apology event in which parties involved in the ethnic tensions came together as a public sign of reconciliation.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Domestic violence is a crime under the law, with a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of SBD 30,000 ($3,735). In May parliament passed amendments to the sexual offense provisions in the penal code, introducing harsher penalties for sexual offenses. The amendments also criminalize some forms of internal human trafficking spousal rape and sex or attempted sex with a person with a known "significant disability," which is defined as an "intellectual, mental or physical condition or impairment" (or combination of two or more such "conditions or impairments") that significantly impairs the person's capacity to understand the nature of the sexual contact or to communicate decisions about sexual contact.

Violence against women, including rape and domestic abuse, remained a serious problem but was underreported. Among the reasons cited for failure to report abuse were pressure from male relatives, fear of reprisals, feelings of shame, and cultural taboos on discussion of such matters.

A 2011 World Health Organization report revealed that more than half of women in the country had experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner, and 64 percent of women between 15 and 49 years regularly experienced violence in the home. The 2013 Solomon Islands Demographic and Health Survey found that 65 percent of women and 69 percent of men believed partner violence was justifiable.

Police made efforts to charge offenders for domestic violence and assault against women. As part of the police curriculum, officers receive specialized training on how to work with rape victims. They were also trained in the implementation of the 2014 Family Protection Act. Police have a Sexual Assault Unit, staffed mostly by female officers, to provide support to victims and investigate charges.

In reported cases of domestic abuse, victims often dropped charges before a court appearance, or settled cases out of court. In cases in which charges were filed, the time between the charging of an individual and the subsequent court hearing could be as long as two years. The magistrates' courts dealt with physical abuse of women as with any other assault, but prosecutions were rare due to low judicial and police capacity and to cultural bias against women.

In 2015 the government endorsed a new National Gender Equality and Women in Development Policy and a National Eliminating Violence Against Women Policy. The government merged these two policies, and the National Taskforce on Eliminating Violence Against Women is responsible for implementation. The taskforce focuses on improving support and referral services for women who are victims of violence, an area that is severely deficient.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) conducted awareness campaigns on family violence during the year. The Family Support Center and a church-run facility for abused women provided counseling and other support services for women. The Family Support Center did not have an in-house lawyer and depended heavily on the Public Solicitor's Office for legal assistance for its clients.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Customary bride-price payments continued to increase and contributed to the perception of male ownership of women. A 2009 study by the South Pacific Commission found approximately 60 percent of women whose marriage involved payment of a bride price experienced violence from their husband, and the figure rose to approximately 81 percent of women whose bride price was not fully paid.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is not illegal and was a widespread problem.

Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, manage their reproductive health, and have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Contraception and adequate prenatal, obstetric, and postnatal care were accessible at all government hospitals and rural health clinics, and all nurses had training to provide family planning services. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an estimated 27 percent of women of reproductive age used modern contraceptive methods and a reported 57 percent of births were unplanned. The UNFPA estimated maternal mortality was 120 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2015 skilled health personnel attended approximately 90 percent of births.

Discrimination: While the law accords women equal legal rights, including the right to own property, most women were limited to customary family roles that prevented them from taking more active roles in economic and political life. No laws mandate equal pay for equal work (see section 7.d.). The Solomon Islands National Council of Women and other NGOs attempted to make women more aware of their legal rights, including voting rights, through seminars, workshops, and other activities.

Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship through their parents. The laws do not allow dual citizenship for adults, and persons who acquire dual citizenship at birth must decide by age 18 years which citizenship to retain. The creation of an electronic registration system in 2015 helped bridge infrastructure that delayed the registration of births. Delays did not result in denial of public services to children.

Education: Education was neither free nor compulsory. The government continued to implement the Free Fee Basic Education (FFBE) Policy, which covers the operational costs for children to attend school but allows school management to request additional contributions from families such as cash, labor, and school fundraising. The FFBE Policy is intended to increase educational access by subsidizing school fees for grades one through nine. This policy rarely covers all costs for schools, depending on their location. Additional school fees, uniform costs, book fees, and transportation needs prevented some children from attending school. According to the Ministry of Education's Performance Assessment Framework, more boys (51 percent) enrolled in early childhood education than did girls (49 percent) in 2013. According to 2013 data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 75 percent of boys who entered primary school reached the last grade, whereas only 69 percent of girls did. High school attendance rates were also higher for boys. According to the ADB, gender imbalance in education improved from earlier years.

Child Abuse: The law grants children the same general rights and protections as adults, with some exceptions. Laws do not specifically prohibit the use of children in illicit activities such as drug trafficking.

The government did not provide sufficient resources to enforce laws designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, and neglect (see section 7.c.). The 2014 Family Protection Act, which criminalizes domestic violence including violence against children, lacked public awareness and enforcement. Child sexual and physical abuse remained significant problems. Nonetheless, the traditional extended-family system generally respected and protected children in accordance with a family's financial resources and access to services. Virtually no children were homeless or abandoned.

Early and Forced Marriage: Both boys and girls may legally marry at 15 years, and the law permits marriage at 14 years with parental and village consent. Marriage at such young ages was not common.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Customary bride-price payments continued to increase and contributed to the perception of ownership of women and their children by the family of the husband.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual sex is 15 years. The maximum penalty for sexual relations with a girl younger than 13 years is life imprisonment, and for sexual relations with a girl between 13 and 15 years, the penalty is five years' imprisonment. Consent is not a permissible defense under either of these provisions however, in the latter case, reasonable belief the victim was 15 years or older is a permissible defense. Selling or hiring minors younger than 15 years and girls younger than 18 years for prostitution is punishable as a criminal offense. Prostitution laws do not cover boys between 15 and 18 years and therefore leaves them without legal protection.

Child pornography is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. The penal code criminalizes the production and possession of obscene material if the purpose is to distribute or publicly exhibit the material. Amendments to the penal code passed in May criminalize commercial sexual exploitation of children and participation in or use, distribution, and storing of sexually exploitative materials with children, and some forms of internal child trafficking. Within the country girls and boys were exploited in prostitution and sexual servitude.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State's Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

Persons with Disabilities

No law or national policy prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities, and no legislation mandates access to buildings, information, or communications for such individuals. The Health National Strategic Policy, which parliament endorsed, includes a section on protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, although the Ministry of Home Affairs is primarily responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Very few buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities. The government relied upon the extended family and NGOs to provide services and support to persons with disabilities. The country had one educational facility, supported almost entirely by the International Committee of the Red Cross, for children with disabilities. During the year concerned citizens in Western Province operated a school for students with hearing disabilities. The school operated on in-kind donations. Children with disabilities could attend mainstream schools, but inadequate facilities and other resource constraints often made it impractical. A center for persons with disabilities in Honiara assisted persons with disabilities in finding employment, although with high unemployment nationwide and no laws requiring reasonable accommodations in the workplace, most persons with disabilities, particularly those in rural areas, did not find work outside the family structure.

The government relied upon families to meet the needs of persons with mental disabilities, and there were very limited government facilities or services for such persons. The Kilufi Hospital in Malaita operated a 10-bed ward for the treatment of psychiatric patients. A psychiatrist resident in Honiara ran a clinic at the National Referral Hospital.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country has more than 27 major islands with approximately 70 language groups. Many islanders saw themselves first as members of a clan, next as inhabitants of their natal island, and only third as citizens of their nation. Tensions and resentment between the Guadalcanalese and the Malaitans on Guadalcanal culminated in violence beginning in 1998. The presence of RAMSI greatly reduced ethnic tension between the two groups, and reconciliation ceremonies organized during the year led to further easing of tensions. Underlying problems between the two groups remained, however, including issues related to jobs and land rights.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

"Sodomy" is illegal, as are "indecent practices between persons of the same sex." The maximum penalty for the former is 14 years' imprisonment and for the latter five years. There were no reports of arrests or prosecutions directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons under these provisions during the year, and authorities generally did not enforce these laws. There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although stigma may hinder some from reporting.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

There was societal discrimination toward persons with HIV/AIDS, but there were no specific reports of disownment by families as reported in the past and no reports of violence targeting persons with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law, including related regulations and statutory instruments, provides for the right of workers to form or join unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively. The law protects workers against antiunion activity but does not specifically provide for reinstatement. The law states that, subject to the provisions of the Trade Unions Act, nothing contained in any law shall prohibit any employee from being or becoming a member of any trade union or subject him to any penalty due to his membership with a trade union. The law permits strikes in both the public and private sectors. A notice to the government 28 days prior to a strike is required for strikes to be legal. The government prohibits strikes by civil servants in essential services, but there are procedures in place to provide these workers due process and protect their rights. The government defines essential services to include but not be limited to the health, public security, aviation, marine, immigration, and disaster relief sectors. The law does not protect the rights of workers in the informal sector or in organizing and collective bargaining.

The government effectively enforced the law. The penalty is a fine of SBD 200 ($25) or imprisonment for six months. The penalty for antiunion discrimination was not effective, because employers could afford to pay the fine and easily replace workers. The small fines also served as a deterrent for employees to strike.

Collective bargaining agreements determined wages and conditions of employment. Disputes between labor and management not settled between the two sides were referred to the Trade Disputes Panel (TDP) for arbitration, either before or during a strike. While the TDP deliberates, employees have protection from arbitrary dismissal or lockout. The three-member TDP, composed of a chairperson appointed by the judiciary, a labor representative, and a business representative, is independent and neutral. The TDP's decisions are binding on the parties. Administrative and judicial procedures were not subject to lengthy delays or appeals.

Workers exercised their right to associate freely and bargain collectively, although employers did not always respect these rights. Since only a small percentage of the workforce had formal employment, employers could easily replace workers if disputes were not resolved quickly.

In March the Workers Union of Solomon Islands represented 17 workers who believed the Solomon Islands Port Authority wrongfully terminated them. The union won the case, and the employer reinstated the workers.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, except as part of a court sentence or order however, the law contains no penalties for violators. The government did not effectively enforce the law. The immigration act prohibits transnational forced labor and the May amendment to the penal code prohibits internal forced labor and prescribes a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment (or 25 years if the victim is a child). There were no consistent methodologies or techniques to enforce the law. The government typically relied on labor inspectors to report on any instances of forced or compulsory labor during regularly scheduled routine inspections, but there were not enough inspectors or resources to enforce the laws effectively. In 2015 the immigration division led multiagency monitoring and investigating operations at logging companies and, through these efforts identified two suspected cases of forced labor, although it did not initiate any prosecutions. There were reports of adults forced to work in logging camps and aboard fishing vessels and of children in domestic servitude or service industries.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law forbids labor by children younger than 12 years, except light agricultural or domestic work performed in the company of parents, or other labor approved by the commissioner of labor. The law bars children younger than 15 years from work in industry or on ships, except aboard training ships for educational purposes. Those younger than 16 years may not work underground in mines. Boys between 16 and 18 years may work in mines or at night in any industry with specific written permission from the commissioner of labor. The law does not limit the number of hours a child can work.

The commissioner of labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but the resources devoted to investigating child labor cases were not adequate to investigate and protect against violations. The ministry responsible for combatting child labor does not collect data on the number of inspections, violations, or penalties assessed. The law does not specify penalties for violations, significantly weakening effective enforcement.

In view of the low wages and high unemployment, there was little incentive to employ child labor in the formal wage economy however, there were reports of children working as domestic servants, cooks, and performing other tasks in logging camps, where conditions often were poor. In some cases these conditions could amount to forced labor (see section 7.b.). There were also reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children (see section 6, Children).

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment or Occupation

No laws regarding employment and occupation prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national origin, social origin, disability, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases, age, or language. Discrimination in employment and occupation occurred with respect to women, disability, language, sexual orientation and gender identity, and HIV-positive status (see section 6).

Women experienced discrimination especially in the attainment of managerial positions. Employed women were predominantly engaged in low-paying and low-skilled jobs. A 2013 government report presented evidence of a significant gender gap in senior positions, using public service as an example. According to the report, women continued to dominate the lower administrative level on the public service workforce with very few women in senior management positions. A shortage of jobs compounded the limited entry and opportunities of women in the workforce. A new program funded by the International Finance Corporation worked with businesses for four years to provide tools to recruit, retain, and promote women throughout domestic companies in cooperation with the Ministry of Women, Youth, and Children's Affairs.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage was SBD 4 (.50) per hour for all workers except those in the fishing and agricultural sectors, who received SBD 3.50 (.45). The official estimate for the extreme poverty level in the country was SBD 9.74 ($1.20) per day. The proportion of the population living below the food poverty line was 4.4 percent. The government undertook a review of the minimum wage, and consequently proposed raising the general minimum wage to SBD 7 (.85). The law regulates premium pay, sick leave, the right to paid vacations, and other conditions of service. The standard workweek is 45 hours and is limited to six days per week. There are provisions for maternity leave and premium pay for overtime and holiday work. The law prohibits excessive compulsory overtime.

Occupation safety and health laws require employers to provide a safe working environment and forbid retribution against any employee who seeks protection under labor regulations. These laws are current and appropriate for main industries, as well as in line with International Labor Organization standards. Laws on working conditions and safety standards apply equally to foreign workers and citizens. Some workers could not remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety, particularly in the fishing and logging industries without jeopardy to their employment.

An active labor movement and an independent judiciary helped provide effective enforcement of labor laws in major state and private enterprises. The commissioner of labor, the public prosecutor, and police are responsible for enforcing labor laws however, they usually reacted to complaints rather than routinely monitored adherence to the law. The government's minimal human and financial resources limited its ability to enforce the law in smaller establishments, the informal economy, and the subsistence sector. The 18 labor inspectors were insufficient to monitor labor practices, particularly in extractive sectors outside of the capital. The law does not specify penalties for violations, significantly weakening effective enforcement.

Authorities did not effectively enforce the health and safety law provisions, and there were numerous violations of the occupational safety and health laws during the year. This was largely due to a shortage of funding and inspectors on the part of the Labor Division to conduct routine inspections on job sites. In 2012, the latest data available, the Labor Division recorded 243 work-related accidents, including 12 fatalities 11 workers in the logging industry were killed on the job, while one worker in the manufacturing sector was killed. Accidents were largely due to negligence or failure to adhere to safety practices by employees and employers. Workers in the logging, construction, and manufacturing industries were subject to hazardous and exploitative working conditions.


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