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Emergency powers: the ship tragedy

07 April 2020

TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands is greatly saddened by the tragedy of the 27 people that went overboard as they comply with the measures that were announced by the Executive Government, going home to their province to be safe from COVID 19. 

Transparency Solomon Islands Board Members and staff are saddened at the fatal disasters of West Are Are boat tragedy  Thursday [2/04/20] night early Friday morning 3rd April 2020. 

Transparency Solomon Islands send its sincere condolences and prayers to the many families of the 27 or so people that lost their lives. 

This very sad tragedy is a tragedy that in Transparency Solomon Islands view must never be brushed aside and forgotten because of COVID 19 and the country being put under the State of Emergency Powers. 

Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Executive Government to conduct an inquiry into this tragedy.

It is acknowledged that such an inquiry will never bring those lives back but identifying the causes and mistakes committed can lead to preventing such disaster in the future, saving lives. 

The country being put under the State of Emergency does not mean non-compliance by service providers of existing laws.  

It is important that while the Prime Minister has issued those emergency powers regulations, it is the duty and responsibility of the Executive Government machinery to inform the public and service provider that they must continue to abide by the laws of this country. 

It is Transparency Solomon Islands' view that there must be a Commission of Inquiry into this tragedy. The following are but just some of the questions needing answers:

  1. Could the boat have taken shelter or why it did not
  2. Why did the boat leave when there was a cyclone warning? 
  3. When were the warnings issued, and what was the content of the warnings. 
  4. Who allowed the boat to sail, captain? Or MP who chattered the boat?
  5. Was the boat overloaded, were crew members drunk? were passengers drunk.
  6. What did the authority do when the boat prepares to sail.

Transparency, openness, and integrity have become much more important now than ever and need to be maintained and ramped up. 

Safeguards against corruption and misconduct must never be weakened or disregarded. 

A citizen must not accept the crisis as a reason to reject transparency and accountability, it will inevitably lead to corruption and no justice.

Trust in our leaders is more important than ever in an emergency. 

Trust is what compels us to follow the government’s urgent advice, and it gives us hope that we can emerge out of this crisis.  

When trust is lost, it cannot easily be regained, even in times of a pandemic. 

To earn our trust, governments must provide a solid explanation for the choices they make; they need to govern with transparency and accountability, and they need to act with integrity, always.

Lastly, the boat was a government charter through the MP responding to a government emergency. 

Whilst we mourn, we must not let the souls of those unfortunate 27 be forgotten till justice is done or we know how to prevent such disasters in the future. 

What you do in addressing this tragedy will go a long way to the partnership with the people you represent and help us come through this pandemic. 







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