UNITED Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Country Manager for Solomon Islands Azusa Kubota says access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law.
Ms Azusa said highlighted this on Wednesday during the soft launch of the report mapping of Justice Sector service provision in the Solomon Islands.
“In the absence of access to justice, people, especially the vulnerable groups such as women, young people, elderly and people with disabilities, are unable to have their voice heard,” she said.
She said it provides an important tool for exercising their rights, challenging discrimination or holding decision-makers accountable. It is about that people’s basic human rights are upheld.
“Those most likely to come into contact with the justice system or need the services provided by the broader justice sector are disadvantaged due to their economic status, geographical location, gender and sometime physical and mental constraints.
“They are more likely to be victims, more likely to be perpetrators and uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of justice. And yet they are also invariable the least able to defend themselves,” MS Azusa added.
She said under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) the countries of the world, Solomon Islands included have committed to providing access to justice for all and to building effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels by 2030.
Ms Azusa said the 70% of youths and 50% of women in our communities should be engaged especially those in the rural or urban centres.
“If our commitment is to ‘leave no one behind’, we must engage with those 80% of Solomon Islands who live outside of urban centres- those for whom Honiara is a world away.
“We must ensure women, people with disability and indeed all the margins of society have the chance to have a dignified life, characterised by fairness and justice.
“This is all easier said than done. Even developed countries with resources have struggled in ensuring access to justice,” she added.
Ms Azusa said history has it that when there are fair and effective justice systems-both formal and informal-readily accessible and available to the vulnerable, it reduces the risks associated with conflicts and tensions.
To help address that, UNDP has seen that efforts around justice sector reform thus collaborate with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs to do a report mapping mainly to inform planning and policy making in the justice sector in Solomon Islands.
By IAN MCDONALD