SOLOMON ISLANDS: CHILDREN'S RIGHTS REFERENCES IN THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

Solomon Islands - Twenty Fourth Session - 2016

25 January 2016, 14:30–18:00

 

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National Report

Compilation of UN Information 

Stakeholder Information 

Accepted and Rejected Recomendations 

 

National report

II. Developments since the previous review A. National laws and legislation

Other human rights related legislation since 2011

7. The government enacted an Immigration Act in 2012 and Immigration Regulations in 2013. The Act criminalises people smuggling, aggravated people smuggling, trafficking of persons, trafficking of children and those benefiting from the exploitation of trafficked persons. While these positive steps have been undertaken, the Government recognises that the Act needs to be reviewed to address elements of internal trafficking activities in the Solomon Islands. The Government further notes that no cases have been prosecuted so far and that the penalties for the offences under section 72–73; 76–78 may not be punitive enough compared to criminal code offences.

8. The Solomon Islands National University Act (SINU Act) 2012 established for the first time, a national higher tertiary institution with the vision to provide quality teaching, learning, skills training and research in the country. The establishment of SINU increases access to tertiary education for marginalised groups.

13. The Child and Family Welfare Bill 2013 gives powers to the Social Welfare Division (SWD) under the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) to provide protection, welfare and care of a child where the rights of the child have been violated. The Bill recognises and promotes the principle of the best interest of the child. SWD can take the child into the safe custody of another family member with prior consultation.

18. The Penal Code (Sexual Offence) (Amendment) Bill 2015 is in its consultation stage. This bill aims to introduce new categories of sexual offences. These include persistent sexual abuse of a child under 18; sexual abuse of child over the age of 15 but under 18 by a person in a position of trust, authority or dependency in relation to the child; child commercial sexual exploitation and participation, use, distribution and storing of child sexual exploitation materials (visual, audio, print and data).

B. National measures and policies

1. Women and children

23. The Government is currently reviewing the progress in the implementation of the Gender Equality and Women’s Development (GEWD) 2010-2012 policy with the support of the SPC. The review process is to enable having a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanism for implementation of policies to measure achievements and keep track of challenges.

24. The Solomon Islands National Strategy for the Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls was endorsed by Cabinet in August 2015. The strategy aims to increase gender equality and employment opportunities through economic empowerment.

25. The Solomon Islands National Council of Women (SINCW) National and Provincial Elections Campaign Strategy Plan of Action 2014-2015 was launched to strengthen and build competence and confidence of women candidates. It provides information and communication resources for public campaigning and undertake civic education programs in identified Constituencies.

2. Education

26. The Government through its Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) developed key planning documents on education to promote ‘Education for All’. These include the National Education Action Plan (NEAP) 2013-2015; the National Human Resources Development and Training Plan (NHRDP) 2013-2015; Review of Early Childhood Education sub-sector and the development of standards for Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE). 

B. Justice and law reforms (Recommendations 80.2, 80.13, 80.15–22, 80.24, 80.31, 81.19–20, 81.42–44, 81.46)

44. The Government remains committed to ensuring that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) principles on juvenile justice are appropriately codified in national law. The Correctional Services of the Solomon Islands (CSSI) in partnership with stakeholders provide on-going rehabilitation programs (education, vocational, and faith based life skills programs) to prepare inmates for re-integration into their communities after serving their sentences.

45. All six correctional service centres have capacity to accommodate female and juvenile prisoners/detainees separate from adult males in accordance with UN standards. Plans to construct a juvenile detention centre at the Tetere Prison on Guadalcanal are progressing.

46. Training on the provisions of the Protocol to Prevent, Protect and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children was carried out for legal services providers, prosecutors, government officials, police, health care workers and civil society by the American Bar Association (ABA) project on Anti-trafficking in the pacific region. The project launched broader Trafficking in Persons (TIP) initiatives by the Government.

49. There is no legislation to legally prohibit corporal punishment of children. In 2012, an issues paper on the Review of the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code by LRC provided that corporal punishment must be reasonable and any degrading punishment performed in public is not allowed.

50. MEHRD carried out a study on ‘barriers to education’ with a set of recommended actions towards addressing corporal punishment. These actions target school teachers, school boards, parents/guardians on the use of non-violent teaching and learning strategies. A Standards Unit in MEHRD is responsible for developing School Administration Manuals and discipline procedures.

C. Women and children (Recommendations 80.3–12, 80.27–30, 80.32–37, 80.40–43, 80.48, 80.81, 81.29, 81.39–41, 81.45, 81.52)

56. In 2013, the LRC made recommendations for the re-definition of rape so that it applies to all people, even where there is a marital relationship between victim and accused. Case-law in 2012 for the first time held that a husband can be found guilty of raping his wife. The High Court applying CEDAW principles under Articles 15 and 16 stated that a husband and wife are equal partners in marriage and held that a husband can be criminally liable for raping his wife.

57. The MWYCFA continued to take the leading advocacy role on ending VAW and girls in collaboration with its relevant stakeholders. The Ministry provides annual budgetary support to two local NGOs, the Christian Care Centre (CCC) and FSC towards initiatives to prevent family violence.

58. Implementation of the FPA began in September 2014 with the development of an implementation strategy and the formation of an Advisory Council. The Council comprises of government representatives, civil society, police and health care providers that will ensure that services and legal assistance are provided to victims of DV. An Information Committee responsible for standardising information on the FPA for training and awareness purposes was also formed. The FPA awareness programs are drawn with four key messages centred on protection, safety, responsibility and communication. A key medium for awareness programs is the annual 16 days of activism campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). During the 2014 ‘16 days of activism’, a ‘take action’ toolkit was produced with information on the prevalence of DV, the FPA and strategies that can be adopted to eliminate VAW and girls.

59. A GBV Coordinator post was established in 2015 within the MHMS. The Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the SAFENET Referral Network, a referral system comprised of government stakeholders that can be used by DV victims when reporting violence committed against them.

60. A Family Protection Unit (FPU) was created and funded under the RAMSI Law and Justice program within the Public Solicitor’s Office in 2012. The FPU gives priority to all family violence cases that are referred to it by any of the stakeholders in the SAFENET membership. In 2014, 47% of weekly legal clinic clients were family law cases, 53% were civil claims. Seifples was established in 2013 as a health clinic for DV victims needing medical attention before referral to FPU for legal assistance.

61. The RSIPF Academy introduced a VAW Module in their curriculum. Annual trainings on eliminating VAW for the Correctional Services Solomon Islands (CSSI) officers and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) are continuing. Family Violence Standards and Operation procedures by RSIPF promote investigation of complaints initiated by victims on SGBV. The Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) and a Family Violence Unit (FVU) within RSIPF carry out criminal investigations in all sexual related offences; undertake family violence awareness and register reported cases under community policing programs, respectively. FVU introduced a register distributed in all police posts nationwide to record FV complaints to collect data on DV occurrences. Statistics from the FVU show an increase in the number of cases reported from 55 in 2012 to 726 in 2015.

62. A DV Unit is also established in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2013 (ODPP) where serious DV cases resulting in deaths are prosecuted. SAU and FVU work in collaboration with the ODPP on DV cases from across the country that are fully investigated and prepared for prosecution.

63. The National Advisory and Action for Children (NAACC) endorsed the 2015 Dynamics of Child Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) cross provincial study findings conducted by Save the Children. The study recommended inter alia, (1) a gender and child rights sensitive standard Code of Conduct for Fishery and Logging Industry employees;(2) a revision of the Solomon Islands Anti-TIP Action Plan so that greater protection is provided against domestic trafficking of children; (3) provision of technical support, training and resources for institutional strengthening of government ministries implementing child related programmes; and (4) Increased joint collaboration between local and international children’s rights NGOs for effective intervention and sustainability of project initiatives. The study found children who have limited education and livelihood opportunities are at risk of being trafficked or sexually exploited. NAACC will use these recommendations to advocate and inform program and policy directions with efforts by the labour sector work and relevant stakeholders to regulate and reduce the risk of child labour and child trafficking. Awareness raising at community level on commercial sexual exploitation of children and child sexual abuse is executed by a sub-committee33 of NAACC whilst CSOs provide counselling, temporary protection services and social integration of child victims.

64. The Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) in partnership with relevant ministries provided training programs for the public service on the FPA. In 2013, the Government Information and Communication Technology Support Unit (ICTSU) partnered with IPAM to enable all government employees’ access capacity building trainings online.

65. The government in partnership with SPC is focused on increasing sustainable livelihood opportunities and educational programmes for young people closely linked with the market economy through the Youth at Work ([email protected]) program which began in 2012. Aimed at addressing the high unemployment of young people in the capital, [email protected] continues to provide training, skills development and group/peer mentoring opportunities for youth to start small businesses and access public sector employment. Over 400 youth have been placed in public service over past 3 years in internships. 10 of these were permanently employed in the public sector after completing internships. 316 youth groups ran Youth Market stalls in 2014-2015; 45 new businesses were funded and started in 2015.

66. The Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System (CRVS) was launched in early 2014 with the support of development partners. CRVS allowed access to birth registration for children and their families living in rural areas to significantly improve. Fifteen additional health satellite service centres that directly facilitate birth notifications were established in Guadalcanal, Choiseul, Temotu, Makira, Western Provinces and Honiara.

67. The MHMS and Civil Registration Office (CRO) have an on-going agreement to centralise birth registration through the SIG ICTSU system. In 2014, for the first time, a national recurrent budget allocation of SBD$1million was provided to the CRO for operational costs.

68. On-going training of nurses on the importance of birth registration, processes and procedures was conducted. The Government endorsed the Regional Action Framework for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific developed by UN ESCAP in 2014.

69. Towards the National General Elections (NGE) in 2014, the SINCW conducted national consultations on Temporary Special Measures (TSM) for women’s participation in decision making bodies.

70. The Solomon Islands National Parliament launched the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group (YWPG) in 2011 with the support of UNDP. The YWPG promotes the participation of young women in leadership. It continues to raise awareness and encourage debate on TSM for elected reserved seats for women in Parliament and undertook a baseline survey on voter behaviour towards female candidates before and after the 2014 elections. The survey identified vote buying during campaigns and gendered cultural perspectives on leadership as some of the barriers to supporting female candidates.

71. The Ministry of Public Service (MPS) has undertaken public service reform in two stages. MPS launched a human resource management strategy aimed at increasing gender mainstreaming and increase female participation in all government machinery. Measures to ensure these two reforms in place were realised resulted in newly introduced key result indicator into all Permanent Secretaries contracts to ensure gender sensitizing in the Public Service and secondly ensuring there is a gender sensitive recruitment and selection process in place.

72. The number of females holding mid-level positions in the Public Service has gradually increased. However, fluctuations are noted at senior level positions of permanent secretaries and under-secretary. Two out of twenty-three permanent secretaries are women, and five out of thirty-nine under-secretaries are women. Opportunities to elevate qualified and experienced women into senior management positions are open.

73. In the RSIPF for the first time, the Deputy Commissioner of Police is a female. A gender audit was undertaken by CSSI with a view to address gender equity in recruitment processes and increase women in senior positions. Recommendations from the gender audit will provide guidance on how to improve women’s meaningful participation at leadership level across the government sectors.

74. At the political level one female MP was elected in the 2012 by-elections. In 2014 four female representatives were elected at provincial level and one MP was voted into office.

75. Data from the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce (SICC) data shows that 40 out of 120 members are young entrepreneurs. Twelve of these are female members and part of the Solomon Islands Women in Business (SIWIBA). The Association of Solomon Islands Manufacturers also has women in its governing committee. Four of the nine State Owned Enterprises (SOE) have females on their boards.

76. The Government has four females in substantive and acting capacity as Heads of Diplomatic missions abroad.

E. Right to an adequate standard of living (Housing, health, water and sanitation) (Recommendations 81.54–55, 80.44–45)

81. In 2015, the Solomon Islands consolidated national guidelines on the use of Anti- retroviral drugs (ARVs) for preventing and treating HIV among adults, adolescents and children. The Government developed national guidelines for HIV Testing Services. Currently, reproductive health, immunisation programs are extended to all rural and provincial clinics. Nine out of ten Provincial Centres all have access to a hospital, nurse aid post or clinics.

82. The MHMS through its reproductive health and adolescent programs undertook inclusive sexual reproductive health training for women and girls including PWD and conducted awareness and education talks for communities and schools. Youth friendly clinics were established in Lata, Vonunu (Western Province) and in Kukum and Rove in Honiara providing counselling services on family planning, STI/HIV-AIDS counselling and the use of contraceptives.

83. A comprehensive life skills and sex education syllabus has been incorporated into the school curriculum. Piloting began at schools in Honiara, Temotu and Choiseul provinces from Grades 4 to Form 3. Nurses assist teachers on the delivery of the subject material in schools. A baseline research on abortion is underway and expected to be completed in 2015.

84. The Government recognises that supplying adequate, reliable safe water to the highly dispersed, largely rural population is a major challenge and relies on partnerships with development partners, local communities and faith based organisations to carry this out.41 This partnership is highly valued given limited availability of WASH data; shortage of trained local hydrologists, water engineers, sanitation specialists, technicians and plumbers. The integrated National Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) Sector Plan 2013- 2025 was developed as a response to concerns of rural and urban communities about water supply and sanitation prioritising the provision of adequate, safe water to hospitals, clinics and schools, increased use of household & community rainwater harvesting and improved urban and peri-urban drainage. The Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) embarked on projects to supply boreholes and water re-piping in Honiara and identified provinces.

F. Human rights issues (Education, electoral system, democracy, labour and disability) (Recommendations 80.39, 80.45–49, 81.56–58, 81.12–15, 81.22–23, 81.30–32, 81.37)

85. The Government continues to implement a fee- free basic education policy covering year 1 to Year 9 to promote access to education, although parents still pay other related costs. According to the MEHRD Performance Assessment Framework, there were more boys (51%) enrolled at ECE level than girls (49%) in 2013. The total enrolment at primary level in 2013 increased by 21.2%,42 and more female (52%) students were enrolled at secondary level than males (48%). This trend shows that gender balance is slowly being realised in enrolment.

87. A recommendation noted from the on-going review of the Education Act is for pregnant female students to return to mainstream education system after giving birth. This will increase opportunities for such students to further their education.

96. Some developments in areas such as Gizo (Western Province) have access ramps built at the newly constructed hospital, the ANZ bank and planned for the Tourism Information Office. The High Court in Honiara has access for wheel chairs. Apart from education centres for persons with disabilities, there is currently no plan in place for accommodation for those with disabilities. PWD are often kept at home with immediate family members except for those who have access to basic education through the CSO initiatives such as the San Isidro School or Bethseda in Honiara. The Special Development Centre operated by the Red Cross provides a friendly learning environment for children with special needs from ECE to Primary level.

G. Environment, climate change, mining and disaster risk reduction (Recommendations 81.34, 81.36)

103. In the past four years, Solomon Islands grappled with a number of natural disasters including, four tropical cyclones, a flash flood, earthquakes, tsunamis, wave surges and landslides. Each of these events has had a crippling effect on the economy, infrastructure and already stretched human and financial resources. For example, at the height of the 2014 flash floods, 4500 people were in evacuation centres in Guadalcanal province; 1110 houses assessed were either destroyed or damaged; 9000 households in Honiara, Guadalcanal and Isabel Provinces lost 75-100 per cent of their food gardens; drinking water remained a concern for an estimated 25000 people. A rapid socio-economic impact assessment estimated that the total cost of damages and losses during the flash floods at damage at SBD 787 million (US$108 million) or 9.7 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. In 2013, more than 6,000 people were affected, eleven people died and 23 communities substantially damaged following the 8.0 earth-quake and tsunami in Temotu. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged housing, water sources and systems, health clinics, schools, roads, wharves, food gardens and other means of livelihoods such as fishing equipment. The replacement value of all the assets in the Solomon Islands is 3.6 billion USD, of which about 86% represents buildings and 12% represents infrastructure.46

H. Cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms (Recommendations 79.8, 80.24, 81.3, 81.33, 81.38)

106. The Special Representative of the SG on Violence Against Children, Ms. Marta Santos Pais visited the Solomon Islands in May 2015.

VI. Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments

120. The Solomon Islands will continue to undertake reviews of its laws and policies to address the changing needs of its people and environment. These include gender equality, the enhancement of the rights of women and children, economic empowerment, law and order and access to justice. The Government is committed to working with development partners in ensuring that gender mainstreaming is filtered across the public service with identifiable best practices.

 

Compilation of UN Information

I. Background and framework 

B. Constitutional and legislative framework

7. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children visited Solomon Islands in May 2015, and noted the Government’s renewed commitment to passing the child and welfare bill, which had been in draft form since 2013. The country team encouraged lobbying and advocacy on the bill, its ownership by key partner agencies and its passing in Parliament.

II. Cooperation with human rights mechanisms

A. Cooperation with treaty bodies

12. The country team reported on the Solomon Islands National Advisory Committee on CEDAW, which the Government had established to perform an oversight and advisory role in the implementation of CEDAW and which had faced significant organizational and resource challenges. The National Advisory and Action Committee on Children, established in 1992, had faced coordination challenges, for which the United Nations Children’s Fund had provided support. The country team encouraged the Government to

further support and allocate adequate resources to those committees to ensure implementation of the respective human rights treaties.

III. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international
humanitarian law

A. Equality and non-discrimination

14. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences reported that women generally had a lower social status than men and faced inequality and discrimination in many aspects of life, including in politics, education and access to economic resources. Women were mainly valued in their traditional roles as mothers and homemakers, and were expected to be submissive and obedient in the family, with men commonly resorting to physical violence to “discipline” women who did not conform to their expected roles.37 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed alarm at the high levels of social acceptance of violence against women and women’s reluctance to report violence.38 The Special Rapporteur reported on the practice of bride price as a factor fuelling situations of violence against women and limiting avenues for women to escape abusive relationships, in that families who received such payment were reluctant to provide support or receive back abused women in the family home, as that would entail paying compensation or returning the goods or money received for the marriage.39

15. The Special Rapporteur recommended that the Government: provide for temporary special measures, including quotas and preferential treatment, to advance women’s integration into education and the economy, and provide incentives to increase the employment of women in both the public and the private sectors; design and launch targeted awareness-raising campaigns to educate and change social attitudes, particularly those that attribute women with a lower social status to that of men; and support, strengthen and replicate awareness-raising and sensitization programmes on women’s human rights and violence against women for local community authorities.

18. UNHCR noted that discriminatory provisions in the Citizenship Act of 1978 might create a risk of statelessness for women who opted for the nationality of their foreign husband and for foreign women married to a Solomon Islands national.45 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged Solomon Islands to repeal without delay all the discriminatory provisions of the Act concerning the acquisition, transmission, retention and loss of nationality, and ensure that both mothers and fathers are able to transmit their nationality to their children.

B. Right to life, liberty and security of person

25. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women regretted that girls were subjected to child marriages and bride-selling under customary laws and that corporal punishment of children was a continuing practice affecting girls.56 The Committee recommended that Solomon Islands urgently repeal customary laws that provided for child marriages and the payment of bride prices, carry out campaigns involving community leaders on those practices as harmful practices contrary to CEDAW,57 and protect girls and boys from corporal punishment at home and in the community.

27. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that Solomon Islands investigate allegations of sexual abuse and rape of schoolgirls and prosecute offenders.

28. Concerned about the sexual exploitation of girls through pornography and the use of the bride-price system to allow temporary marriages of girls to foreign workers, the same Committee recommended that Solomon Islands ensure that the revision of the Penal Code includes amendments to criminalize sex tourism and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls, including the use of girls in pornography.

29. Concerned about the sexual exploitation of girls in logging areas, the same Committee recommended that Solomon Islands prevent the exploitation of prostitution of women and girls, giving particular attention to the exploitation of prostitution in logging areas and in areas where large-scale projects were being developed, and ensure the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.

C. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law

34. The country team reported that services were concentrated in Honiara, including the majority of courts, magistrates, prosecutors, public solicitors and police. That created difficulties for the mostly rural population, leaving them with limited or no access to the formal justice system. While that affected all justice users, gender discrimination exacerbated the challenges for women and girls.73 On women’s access to justice, the country team reported that the ministries responsible for justice and legal affairs and for women, young people, children and family affairs had agreed to establish a coordination team to establish the priority activities under the Family Protection Act and develop an implementation plan. It encouraged the Government to ensure the coordination of and adequate resources for implementing agencies under the Act.

E. Freedom of expression, and the right to participate in public and political life

40. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encouraged Solomon Islands to introduce freedom of information legislation that accorded with international standards.

G. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living

48. The country team observed that two thirds of rural Solomon Islanders still defecated in the open, the highest number in the Pacific subregion, while only 15 per cent of rural households used improved sanitation facilities. Beyond the health impacts of open defecation, the practice exposed women and children to increased risk of abuse and indignity. Women in Honiara’s poorest communities faced particularly high risks of physical and sexual violence, especially when collecting water, bathing or using toilets at night.96 The country team noted that the Government had endorsed a national policy, in 2014, and a national implementation strategy, for the period 2015-2019, for rural water, sanitation and hygiene. National standards for rural water supply and sanitation design and construction were also being developed.

H. Right to health

49. The country team observed that increasing access to health services was challenging in Solomon Islands, given the country’s largely subsistence population, dispersed across many islands, and the minimal infrastructure and transport links. There was limited access to immunization and other health services, a weak outreach system, poor health infrastructure management and accountability and unclear reporting lines. The attitudes of the health workers and the status of the health facilities also limited use of health services.98 Infant and child mortality rates in Solomon Islands remained among the highest in the Pacific region.

I. Right to education

52. UNESCO reported that Solomon Islands had adopted an Education Strategic Framework (2007-2015) and was reviewing its Education Act.104 It recommended that Solomon Islands be encouraged to: further provide education for all, particularly by implementing inclusive education programmes for women, children and persons with disabilities; raise awareness of the negative aspects of corporal punishment; and further promote human rights education and training.

53. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted with concern: the inadequate education infrastructure affecting girls in particular, including the lack of basic sanitary facilities, separate latrines for girls and the long distances that girls walked to school, thereby exposing them to increased risks of violence; the lack of dormitories for girls in rural areas and the fact that those that did exist were run without adequate security; the absence of compulsory primary education and the indirect costs of primary and secondary schooling, such as costs of transport, books, stationery and school- imposed charges, which affected girls disproportionately, given that parents with limited means often gave priority to the schooling of boys; and the high number of early pregnancies among adolescent girls, the dismissal of pregnant girls from school and the absence of re-entry policies for them after giving birth.

54. The same Committee recommended that Solomon Islands: consider increasing the percentage of the budget allocated to education and improve sanitation facilities at schools by providing separate latrines for girls; ensure security for girls on school premises; strengthen efforts to retain girls in school, including pregnant girls, facilitate the return to school of young mothers after giving birth by adopting the policy on second-chance education under consideration and by providing adequate childcare facilities, and ensure that girls are not expelled from school because they are pregnant and impose appropriate sanctions on those responsible for such dismissals; and continue to develop and promote age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health to address early pregnancies.

55. Reporting on the low access of girls to higher secondary schooling and solutions to reduce dropout, the country team noted the lack of plans to construct additional secondary schools and that financial support from development partners was required to address the problem.

J. Persons with disabilities

56. Concerned about the lack of public policies and measures to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities,109 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called upon Solomon Islands to adopt comprehensive policies and programmes to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities, and to develop partnerships with civil society and community-based organizations and international stakeholders to identify women and girls with disabilities who were facing discrimination, as well as isolation, confinement and different forms of physical and psychological violence.

 

Stakeholder Information 

Information provided by stakeholders

B. Cooperation with human rights mechanisms Cooperation with treaty bodies

6. Joint Submission 1-Development Services Exchange (JS1-DSE) referred to the long overdue report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.12

C. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law

1. Equality and non-discrimination

7. ICAAD stated that women in the Solomon Islands were subjected to discrimination in political, social, educational, and economic sectors. For the most part, women were confined to customary familial roles that limited their ability to access the benefits from the country’s development. Women’s participation in the labour market was concentrated around low-skill and low-paying jobs. The Government must create quotas and preferential treatment to increase women’s participation in education and the economy.

Incentives must be created in the private and public sectors to increase women’s participation in the labour market.

8. JS1-DSE reported that about 14% of the total population reported a disability. JS1- DSE stated that people with disabilities were not recognized and valued by many in the society and often faced violence in their lives. They faced problems of inaccessibility to public transport, especially buses, and reduced opportunities to employment. JS1-DSE urged the Government to create more opportunities for income generation and employment based on equal rights and empowerment of all persons regardless of disability or gender.

9. KAHRF reported that the Solomon Islands had no laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in all areas of public life, including employment, education, health care and the provision of goods and services. KAHRF recommended that the Solomon Islands enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in all areas of public life.

2. Right to life, liberty and security of the person

10. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) observed that, in the Solomon Islands, corporal punishment of children was lawful, despite recommendations to prohibit it by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and during the 1st cycle UPR19 of the Solomon Islands (which the Government accepted).20 The Government subsequently reported21 that the Law Reform Commission had terms of reference to review the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code which would address, inter alia, the issue of corporal punishment.22 GIEACPC reported that a draft new Constitution was under discussion which would expressly authorise “reasonable chastisement”. GIEACPC specifically recommended that the Solomon Islands clearly prohibit all corporal punishment of children in all settings including the home, explicitly repeal the right “to administer reasonable punishment” in the Penal Code and ensure that the new Federal Constitution does not provide for “reasonable chastisement”.

11. ICAAD stated that, in the broader social context, women continued to live with the effects of a period of internal unrest between 1998 and 2003 known as “the tensions.” Rape was reportedly frequently used by militants and policemen to extract information from women and girls about the whereabouts of family or community members.

12. JS1-DSE reported that the 2009 Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study revealed that 64% of the women respondents aged 15 to 49 had experienced physical or sexual violence or both from an intimate partner. The study also found childhood sexual abuse (before the age of 15 years) to be common (37%).

13. ICAAD observed that the customary practice of paying a dowry or “bride price” to a woman’s family in exchange for marriage resulted in the high-prevalence of intimate partner violence, stymied girl’s education, and resulted in teenage pregnancy.26 ICAAD reported that violence against women and girls was endemic in the Solomon Islands and that women failed to report such violence due to fear of reprisals, feelings of shame, and cultural taboos.

14. JS1-DSE welcomed the adoption of the Family Protection Act 2014 and the proposed reforms to the Penal Code that would make it easier for the police and those in danger to take effective legal action. JS1-DSE recommended that the Government take necessary steps to amend section 137 of the Penal Code and increase the penalties for rape offenders. Awareness and education around domestic violence should be compulsory and Government should strengthen programs and activities that promote a better understanding among women and girls of their rights and the laws which protect them against physical and sexual abuse. JS1-DSE also recommended that law enforcement institutions recruit more women and set up gender sensitive victim support units to ensure that women feel safe to report crimes and feel confident that complaints will be investigated and prosecuted. The Government was urged to implement the Family Protection Act 2014, including through allocating appropriate resources.

18. ICAAD reported that sexual abuse of women was particularly high in remote communities. Some cases involved girls being taken to fishing boats where sex was exchanged for fish. A market for sexual services had developed in areas where local logging companies used foreign workers. The foreign workers allegedly used money and access to goods not locally available in exchange for sex, resulting in sexual exploitation and abuse.

3. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law

22. FSC referred to reports that the Public Solicitor’s Office which provided legal assistance to women on issues such as domestic violence, maintenance and child custody was overburdened and under-resourced. There were only two lawyers in the Family Protection Unit of the Public Solicitor’s Office, despite the fact that the Family Protection Unit was currently prioritising applications for protection orders. FSC was particularly concerned at limited funding for the Public Solicitor’s Office to carry out outreach activities in the provinces and the impact on rural women of that lack of resources. FSC reported that as of October 2014 its legal officer had started representing victims of domestic violence and related matters in the lower courts due to the inaccessibility of services at the Public Solicitor’s Office. FSC noted that apart from the Public Solicitor’s Office and Family Service Centre there were no other legal services that could be accessed free by the women and children.

24. FSC reported that Magistrates courts did not have the jurisdiction to deal with cases of divorce, matrimonial property and adoption. This meant that a woman could have various cases at different courts if she were seeking both a divorce and custody of her children. FSC explained that individuals were often forced to travel large distances, sometimes to Honiara in order to access the formal justice system. For many women, the courts were too distant and hard to reach.

26. By way of more detailed recommendations, FSC stated that there needed to be a full time family court to deal with domestic violence cases and other cases; or for current courts to allocate at least 2 days in a week just for civil or family cases. There needed to be more magistrates and Public Solicitor Office lawyers (with FSC if necessary) who could be available in all provincial centres at all times. There was a need to give Magistrates’ Court or certain Magistrates the power to hear divorce, matrimonial properties and adoption applications. There should also be a requirement to have specialised magistrates dealing with domestic violence, child abuse and family cases. It must be ensured that Magistrates undergo CEDAW and other human rights trainings.

 

7. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living

33. With reference to uneven development in the country and resulting inter-island migration, JS1-DSE reported that people were migrating to Honiara from rural areas in search of jobs and opportunities. However, in Honiara alone, 80% of youth were unemployed. With women and youth among the most vulnerable that could lead to social problems like increased crime, prostitution and anti-social behaviour. The various schemes implemented by the Government, including the rapid employment scheme and the offshore seasonal work in fruit harvesting simply was not enough to meet the needs and expectations of the growing numbers of university graduates, school drop-outs and idle youth flooding into the national capital from the provinces. According to JS1-DSE, unemployment was largely contributing to poverty and economic instability in Solomon Islands. JS1-DSE urged the Government to create greater employment opportunities in all provinces to address the growing demand for work by unemployed population. The Government should consider identifying priority sectors and industries that many Solomon Islanders could easily participate in and provide skills training for those areas.

9. Right to education

35. JS1-DSE referred to data on the completion of educational levels, which indicated that in 2009 about 56 percent of the population 15 years and older had only a primary level education and 21 percent of males and 16 percent of females had secondary education. Only 6 percent of males and 3 percent of females aged 15 and older had a tertiary level education. Eleven per cent of males and 21 percent of females had never been to school or only attended preschool.

36. JS1-DSE noted that access to education was a human right and new policies adopted in 2009 with the objectives of providing full enrolment opportunity to all children of the age six up to fifteen on an equitable basis and achieving a 100% transition rate of all child en in year six to year seven by 2015. JS1-DSE urged the Government to consider increasing school budgets (for materials and teachers) to reduce year 6 and 9 drop-outs and the phasing out entrance exams in those two years; and to ensure primary education is compulsory and seek continued assistance from development partners and donors for the Free Fee Basic Education Policy in Solomon Islands; to improve and expand the capacity of all educational institutions in the country including promoting quality education and teacher motivation to respond to student demand for places both primary and secondary level including special needs education; to effectively strengthen the education systems and policies so as to reduce gender disparities in primary and secondary results.

10. Persons with disabilities

37. ICAAD noted67 that the Solomon Islands had accepted recommendations made as part of the universal periodic review process regarding the disabled and access to education, housing, employment, health and justice. The Government had not enacted legislation to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination, and had done little despite accepting various recommendations. ICAAD also reported that public facilities remained inaccessible to many persons with disabilities and employers were not required by law to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. With a lack of access to the labour market, persons with disabilities largely depended on their families for support.69 ICAAD recommended that the Government enact a law to ensure the protection and care of persons with disabilities. Additionally, the Solomon Islands must implement policies to guarantee decent housing, employment and health to persons with disabilities. Finally, the Government must develop public awareness campaigns about the rights and participation of persons with disabilities.

40. Referring to gaps in mainstreaming disability in Government policies, PWDSI stated that the 2010 Gender Equality and Women Development Policy failed to mention let alone address any issues facing women with disabilities. The Elimination of Violence against Women Policy made no specific mention of girls and women with disabilities. PWDSI called on the Government to: mainstream disability in all its policies and programmes;and to mainstream the needs and issues of women with disabilities in major gender policies and programmes.

41. PWDSI reported that only 2 per cent children with disabilities attended primary school, 1% attended secondary school and less than 1 per cent attended senior secondary school. While PWDSI acknowledged the Government’s work on inclusive education policy, PWDSI was concerned that school fees or parents’ monetary contributions required by school authorities would still deter children with disabilities to access education. PWDSI called on the Government to ensure full fee free education for all children with disabilities and access to quality education for all children.

 

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations 

The following recommendations enjoy the support of Solomon Islands:

99.1 Ratify and/or accede promptly to, as appropriate, the three Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Uruguay); Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (Switzerland); Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Panama);

99.2 Ensure that the rights of children are protected by codifying the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the national legislation and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Germany);

99.3 Progress domestic child protection legislation and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Australia);

99.9 Present, before the next review, the combined report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (Uruguay);

99.10 Adopt a national plan of action against sexual exploitation of children and against child labour. Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to internationally accepted standards and ensure that juvenile justice protection is accorded to all children up to the age of 18 years, as previously recommended (Slovenia);

99.11 Take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of children’s rights, in line with the international obligations of Solomon Islands, particularly by putting in place a juvenile justice system (France);

99.12 Continue efforts to guarantee access to girls, boys, women and persons with disabilities to health services, education services, drinking water and sanitation (Mexico);

99.13 Enhance the protection of children from abuse, including prostitution, child pornography and forced marriages (United States of America);

99.14 Provide constitutional and legal protection for children against all forms of violence at home and at school (Fiji);

99.15 Legislative protection for children includes criminal sanctions for all forms of violence against children (Fiji);

99.19 Continue to implement laws and regulations for the protection and socioeconomic growth of women and the rights of children (Pakistan);

99.24 Take measures to ensure non-discrimination against women within all sectors of society, particularly with regard to access to education and employment, and to amend and align all existing laws in this regard (Namibia);

99.25 Use the advantage of its matrilineal society to improve women’s access to power, especially in relation to land issues; raise the social standing of women and girls; increase access to safe sanitary facilities and encourage the rearing of confident boys and men (Jamaica);

99.32 Strengthen, through adequate sanctions and awareness-raising campaigns, the fight against gender violence. In this regard, consider the adoption of measures, such as quotas, incentives and/or preferential treatment, that promote the incorporation of women into education and the economy, both in the public and private spheres (Chile);

99.42 Take measures to combat violence against women and children and to ensure effective complaint mechanisms for victims (Namibia);

99.43 Increase its efforts to address violence against women and children as an urgent priority. This includes fully implementing the Family Protection Act and providing necessary resourcing to ensure that vulnerable women and children have access to both safe dwellings and mechanisms of justice (New Zealand);

99.50  Improve access to health services (Trinidad and Tobago); 

99.51  Strengthen the education system to reduce gender disparity and 

improve the education standard throughout the country (Maldives);

99.52 Take the necessary steps to improve education infrastructure with the aim of ensuring girls’ access to school (Armenia);

99.53 Permit and encourage female students to return to formal education after giving birth, in keeping with the recommendation made during the review of the Education Act (Jamaica);

99.54 Increase support for families to facilitate the pursuance by children of primary and secondary education (Trinidad and Tobago);

100.56 Step up policies to protect children in order to eliminate violence against girls and boys, as well as combating child labour (Mexico);

100.57 End all forms of corporal punishment of children in all settings, including in the home and in schools, by enforcing its prohibition, as previously recommended (Slovenia);

 

 

100.63 Implement measures to punish traffickers and prevent child prostitution and forced marriage (Australia);

100.64 Enforce fully recently introduced legislation to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, including prosecutions for individuals suspected of human trafficking (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);

100.65 Pass a law to criminalize all forms of human trafficking and ratify the 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (United States of America);

100.67 Punish sex tourism and particularly prosecute the sexual exploitation of girls through pornography, sexual abuse and rape (Spain);

100.70 Step up efforts to ensure that primary education is compulsory as well as free of charge, and improve the capacity of all educational institutions, importantly through the increase of budget allocations towards education (Republic of Korea);

100.71 Make primary education compulsory, ensuring particularly the inclusion of girls and persons with disabilities in the educational system (Spain);

 

100.75 Implement measures to ensure the full enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities, especially regarding inclusive education and development (Israel)

Countries

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