This month more than 50 local court members in the Solomon Islands are taking part in intensive training on their role as Authorised Justices as stipulated in the Island nations Family Protection Act. The trainings, part of a 3-year program, are designed to give court officials a better understanding of the Act as well as covering sensitive topics such as gender roles and domestic violence.
Under the Act, Local Court Justices are authorised to issue interim protection orders for survivors of domestic violence in their communities. With this responsibility, the Local Court Justices can bring access to justice closer to communities where it is often difficult to get a protection order from a magistrate court.
The trainings have been organised by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) with funding support from the United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF) and the Australian Government. Two training sessions were planned, with the first having already taken place in Honiara from 12-16 March and the second, now underway in Malaita, due to conclude on 23 March.
The training in Honiara saw a total of 32 Local Court Justices, including two women from Guadalcanal take part. Daniel Sade, the president of the Guadalcanal Local Court urged the participants to use the tools that the training had provided to improve their work, saying, “now that we are equipped with this knowledge, I appeal to all the Local Court Members or Authorised Justices to carry out our duties”.
The training taking place this week has brought together 15 Local Court Justices from around Malaita province to the capital of Auki. The Local Court Justices have been enthusiastic about their role and keen to better understand the Act and their role as Authorised Justices.
Phillip Waletobata of Radefasu said, “this training is giving us a fair idea of what the Family Protection Act is and will help us to do our work in the community”. Another participant, Mr. Nelson Ne’e from Central Kwara’ae stated, “with this training we will know how to execute the interim protection orders and better serve the community.”
Senior Human Rights Advisor, Ms. Rose Martin said, “RRRT is pleased to provide this support to Local Court Justices. The training will help ease the challenges faced by rural communities who need to access to the justice system for domestic violence issues. It also provides valuable capacity building for the members of the Solomon Islands court officials”.
The Access to Justice Project is implemented by RRRT in partnership with the Solomon Islands Judiciary (Local Court), the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.
The project is funded by UNTF and the Australian Government.
Rose Martin, RRRT Senior Human Rights Adviser, [email protected]