A FOUR-DAY workshop on Family Violence and Youth Justice started yesterday at the Honiara Hotel conference room.
The programme, which was hosted by the Pacific Judicial Development Programme (PJDP), was funded by the New Zealand government and run by the Federal Court of Australia.
Participants of the workshop came from the judiciary, government agencies and departments, as well as non-government organisations.
The objectives of the workshop are to firstly 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.
The 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.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Chief Judge of New Zealand family court Peter Boshier said this particular programme is run in 14 Pacific countries and all to do with better access to justice by victims of violence and all sorts of victims.
He said New Zealand government funded this workshop because it wants to support the local judiciary.
“The New Zealand Government wants to try and make a difference, and wanted to support the local judiciary, not to tell them what to do but to support them in a way they are doing their job,” Justice Boshier said.
He said this workshop was conducted to talk about local issues and what needs to be done and try and get each local judiciary to be able to perform a little bit better.
Justice Boshier said it is a unique sort of workshop as the Chief Justice of Solomon Islands and the whole judiciary from Solomon Islands attended.
“It is very unusual to have the judiciary present with police, court officers, government agencies, non-government organisations and the churches.”
He said at the end of the workshop he will know whether everyone wants to do a memoriam of understanding, that they will all work together to reduce family violence offending in Solomon Island and make sure that victims of family violence have good support and proper protection.
Justice Boshier said at the moment before the Solomon Islands Parliament is a Family Protection Bill, which he believes will be passed but is waiting for its report from the select committee.
“We’re all hoping that it may be read and passed at the sitting of the Parliament.
“The bill is very much the same as the legislature of other Pacific countries.
“It is a really great piece of law. It enables the police to issue safety notice so people who are violent have to leave their home straight away.
“It gives ability of people to apply to magistrates and judges to have protection orders made. And if it’s really urgent the bill says the court should try and deal with it the same day.”
He said the bill creates offences and it does further things like creates an awareness program for family violence and an advisory council.
“We have seen quite a revolution in the Pacific because 10 years ago we are not prepared to talk about family violence.
“We are now recognising that family violence is huge, and fact that the Pacific knows that, is probably seen by the fact so many countries had passed the legislation.”
He added that according to a survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 68 percent of women in Solomon Islands suffered domestic violence.
Similar workshops have been previously conducted in Vanuatu, Tonga, Palau, and Cook Islands.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN