THE Government is urged to pass the Family Protection Bill that is currently before Parliament.
Chief Judge of New Zealand Family Court Peter Boshier, who is facilitating the four days workshop on Family Violence and Youth Justice, made this call on Wednesday.
“I urged the Solomon Islands Government to pass this bill,” Justice Boshier said in his remarks.
The Bill is in the committee stage and is expected to pass this week.
The reason for which he made this call was because Solomon Islands was part of the international convention and had agreed to remove discrimination against women.
“It has agreed to protect children and this bill is the chance for the Solomon Islands to achieve protection.
“I think parliament should pass this bill as it has been scrutinized so much and it has undergone so much analysis and research that there is nothing else to be done.
“A lot of us have been through the draft. The chief Justice has gone through the draft. The time for changes is finished.
“Everything has to come to an end. This bill must be passed,” Justice Boshier said.
He said the significant thing about the bill is it is going to make particularly law enforcement agencies and people who are violent much more accountable.
“It will make people take family violence seriously.
“They will not be able to get away with an activity they had in the past. That’s a big change.”
He said there will be a real important event in the Pacific and that is if the parliament passes this bill.
He added that the Family Protection Bill has under gone a lot of consultation.
“I don’t know of a Bill that has many drafts and we are up to draft 13.”
“That really indicates it had a lot of work done on it.”
The draft Bill was gone through yesterday by all participants of the workshop and there were questions, comments and discussions being made about it.
Justice Boshier said it’s understandable that some people have questions because they have never seen it before.
He said the Bill has become simpler than the previous drafts and the reasons for it being simple is so that police and other ordinary people apart from judges and magistrates to be able to access it and understand it.
“When I first saw the Bill in February it was too complicated.
“The big change now is a police can issue a safety notice really easily.
“And that is one of the most powerful things that can happen because you can get access to police any time of the night or day.
“If violence is going on at home, the effect of a safety notice is to require the violent person to leave.”
He said it’s a breach of a safety notice for you to fail to do what it says and will end up in court with a charge.
The protection orders, he said, considering the remoteness of our Islands and lack of resources can be applied for before a magistrate or a local court by telephone, radio telephone, fax or email.
“I think it is quiet sensible because how you are going to get near a court if you’re in an outer island. It’s what other Pacific countries have done and it is a good way of doing it,” he said.
Someone during the discussions yesterday raised concern about the implementation of it, saying “We have no choice but to do something about it”.
“We just need to come out to do all the things that need to be done, giving court forms, giving training, getting process in place, getting awareness out there so that people use it, giving support groups, help people make applications, making sure judges know what they are doing and making sure judges are available to do these things and getting police to serve them.
“This will not work unless we all understand that we are bits of a jigsaws and the jigsaw will not come together unless we all do our part.
“So this workshop is really a start in trying to explain what the bits of the jigsaw are.”
The four day workshop that started on Tuesday will continue tomorrow with presentations, group discussions and a mock court in relation to dealing with young offenders.
The workshop was hosted by the Pacific Judicial Development Programme (PJDP) with objectives to consider family violence in both the Pacific and local contexts, to learn how to approach and deal with it within the constraints of present law, and secondly to consider the proposed Solomon Islands Family Protection Bill 2013 and learn its scope.
Its third objective is to review the operation and implementation of the Juvenile Act, the Probation Act and the Evidence Act and consider the setting up of a Pasifika Court for young offenders.
The workshop was funded by the New Zealand Government and run by the Federal Court of Australia.
The participants came from the judiciary, government agencies and departments, as well as non-government organisations.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN