FORUM Solomon Islands International (FSII) has welcomed the High Court decision handed down by Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer on Tuesday 19th April.
Justice Palmer in his 17-page decision ruled that the MPs benefits set out in the [“the 2015 regulations”] awarded by the MPEC which came into force with effect from 1st April 2015 were all null and void.
The claimants in this case are senior citizens, apart from the third claimant who is a sitting Member of Parliament.
Sir Albert has declared that payment increased and tax exemption salaries granted to the Members of Parliament last year by the MPEC are null and void.
It was also obvious Sir Albert Palmer’sdecision was welcomed with jubilation by citizens and observers.
Outside the courtroom there was a roar of elation following the delivery of the judgment.
FSII in a statement said it welcomed the landmark decision and described it as “the peoples’ victory”.
“The victory belongs to the people of this country,” FSII chief executive officer Benjamin Afuga said.
“Men, women, youths, the marginalised and everybody deserved the outcome of this court case,” he added.
Senior citizens, Ben Tabusasi, Ruth Liloqula, Anthony Vernon Hughes, Fr. Graham Mark and MP Derrick Manua’ari took the matter to the High court after the MPEC decision sparked nationwide upheaval last year.
“We would like to congratulate the claimants who truly stood up for the voiceless without fear.
“FSII also praises private lawyer, Andrew Radclyffe who successfully fought the case on Pro-bono basis,” Mr Afuga added.
He said FSII also recognized the hard work demonstrated by young lawyer John Taupongi.
“FSII views the outcome of the civil case as a confirmation that our high court is still independent and should still be relied on,” MrAfuga remarked.
“Whilst FSII views the court decision as the ‘People’s Victory’, it isalso one that will set bells ringing in the ears of leaders.
“Leaders must now realise that our people have reached another level where they can now utilise their rights to question decisions.
“FSII believes that the court decision has certainly paved way for more court challenges regarding controversial decisions made by leaders.”
Mr Afuga encouraged its members and every citizen to continue to exercise their constitutional, democratic rights, civil rights and human rights to question and hold leaders accountable for their own actions.
“Use your constitutional, democratic, civil and even human rights to identify any inequality and shortcomings caused by those mandated and entrusted to make decisions on behalf of citizens.
“Citizens have been suppressed far too long and now it’s time to rise up to the many challenges and be counted as a game changer,” Mr Afuga said.