TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) yesterday urged the Government to halt taking the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill to parliament.
The bill is currently with the Bills and Legislative Committee, which has started conducting its hearing yesterday.
TSI’s call came a day after the Civil Society Sector expressed its dismay at the lack of public consultation being done on the bill.
“We call on civil society organization, concerned individuals and senior citizens and young people of this country to demand that this bill be delayed,” TSI said in a statement.
“We do so base on the many clients dilemma, hopelessness, helplessness when they have been deprived of their human rights as a result of decisions made by Chiefs Hearing and the Local Courts which nearly always makes decision in favors of loggers-backed parties,” it added.
“They no longer consider people but money, they no longer interpret custom but money.
“Today it is logging and tomorrow it might be something else.
“The very group that have brought misery, hopelessness and helplessness and poverty to our people are the very people this Bill will empower.”
The bill, among others, aims to empower chiefs.
But TSI said the bill will weaken and eventually wears away the leadership systems in rural Solomon Islands, a leadership system that is inclusive and appropriate for the communities, tribes where these are accepted by them according to their tradition and practices.
“When it comes to land, the proposed bill is gender-biased and does not accord women the importance that custom accords them in land matters and also in decision making.
“The result of this bill would thoroughly subject our resources to Central Government control and regulations and call on right thinking Solomon Islanders to raise your concern on this proposed bill.
“Whilst the government is unable to provide resources for the local Courts to deal with these very issues resulting in loggers doing it, how much more for such an ill-conceived structure which again will be in the pocket of unscrupulous investors as is the case now?
“Wake up government and do not lie to the people of Solomon Islands.
“You will be creating another system/structure that will again be in the pocket of loggers, miners, corrupt greedy people.”
TSI said it understands government frustration when more than 80% of land in this country is customary land and does not directly accessible to the government for its development plans.
It added the Government must delay the bill and return to the people.
“Consultations must be done with women, youth and all and not just the chiefs like in a number of provinces so far.
“People must be allowed to also hear opposing views during this consultation and not just what the drafters want them to hear.”