Honiara, Solomon Islands – The Australian Government funded Solomon Islands Access to Justice (A2J) Project, is jointly implemented by UNDP and Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MJLA), with a focus on strengthening the capacity of the Public Solicitors Office (PSO) to enhance access to justice for all Solomon Islanders, particularly women, youth and marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities in communities outside urban centers. The project is implemented across the provinces of the Solomon Islands through a two-tiered paralegal initiative of Provincial Paralegals and Community Legal Advocates.
The project is supporting the development of the PSO’s five-year strategic plan to guide its role in providing legal aid and assistance. This process is currently underway. It includes a functional review, annual corporate planning, consideration of the applicable legal and strategic framework of the Solomon Islands justice system. It also includes consideration of international standards and best practice together with financial and human resourcing management to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the PSO. These deliberations were specifically framed by the introduction of the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems.
A consultative and collaborative approach has been taken to develop the strategic plan led by the PSO, with technical support from UNDP. This involves individual stakeholder consultations with heads of justice agencies and actors, which complement the PSO staff consultations that concluded on Saturday 1 August.
At the opening of the PSO consultation on Friday 31 July, the Permanent Secretary for the MJLA, Dr. Paul Mae thanked the Australian Government and UNDP for their support to the justice sector. He highlighted the importance of the PSO providing free high-quality legal services, advice and assistance to people in need, particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth and people with disabilities.
Dr. Mae further stated that while designing the new five-year strategic plan, it is important to look at existing policies and the Justice Sector Strategic Framework which aligns with the National Development Strategy.
UNDP Country Manager Mr. Berdi Berdiyev, echoed Dr. Mae’s gratitude towards the Australian Government in supporting the Access to Justice Project. He emphasized the excellent partnership and ongoing commitment between the MJLA, PSO and UNDP in enhancing access to justice.
“The development of the five-year strategic plan is a very important undertaking to guide the work of the PSO in delivering its high-quality services. The plan is one of many activities by the UNDP Access to Justice Project to ensure effective coordination and delivery of the work of the PSO.”
In delivering her remarks, Acting Senior Programme Manager at the Australian High Commission, Ms. Deltina Solomon, stated that the Australian Government is committed to assisting the Solomon Islands Government to deliver a strong justice system that supports the rule of law and strengthen access to justice for all. She acknowledged the positive initiatives by MJLA and the PSO to strengthen the delivery of the justice services in the Solomon Islands.
The one-and-a-half day PSO workshop concluded on Saturday 1 August at the Parangiju Mountain Lodge, with active participation from PSO lawyers and support staff, and representatives from MJLA. The space fostered open dialogue through numerous group activities, discussions and role plays for the direct engagement of PSO staff to share their aspirations for the organisation’s growth over the next five years to support access to justice for all Solomon Islanders.
Ednal Palmer, Communications Specialist, UNDP Solomon Islands Office. Tel: (677) 27446 / 7336633; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org