Consultations and dialogue on the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project (A2J) with key actors in Auki, Malaita Province is currently underway.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives in partnership with the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MJLA) have commenced meaningful dialogue this week.
The A2J team consultations has engaged the Premier of Malaita, Daniel Suidani, Malaiyta Provincial Secretary, and stakeholders.
A2J team explained the aims and approach of the project is to strengthen the capacity and work of the PSO in the provinces through the two-tiered paralegal strategy.
“Tier one involves the traditional paralegal to provide support to the supervising lawyers in the established offices of the PSO. Tier two is a pilot involving a limited number of community legal advocates (CLAs) located in selected communities identified with the PSO to serve as a bridge between the communities and the formal justice sector”, UNDP Media statement said.
Welcoming the team, Mr Suidani, expressed appreciation for his province being selected as a pilot site for the project. He emphasized the need to enhance access to formal justice institutions through innovative connections that is workable for people.
“Malaita is the most populated province in the Solomon Islands and its population has experienced challenges in accessing formal justice services. Greater legal awareness and access to justice services are needed in Malaita given the fact that most of the population heavily relies on traditional forms of justice. These traditional dispute resolution forms are sometimes contrary to the accepted formal justice processes.”
Malaita Provincial Council of Women President, Ms. Matha Rurai, said “based on the Council’s data, women are one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of limited access to justice services we supported the A2J initiative.”
Public Solicitor Howard Lowry said the PSO offices have faced a lot of challenges therefore the A2J initiative will really support the PSO in extending its service to communities.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary of MJLA Dr. Paul Mae assured the Malaitan Premier of the Solomon Islands Government strong support towards ensuring formal justice services are improved and accessible throughout the Solomon Islands.
The A2J Team is in North Malaita to conduct further community consultation, mapping, and a baseline survey.
The Solomon Islands A2J Project is funded through the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and jointly implemented by UNDP and the PSO.