Honiara, Solomon Islands - An intensive two-week training for Community Legal Advocates has been successfully conducted by the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project (A2J), funded by the Australian Government and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO).

The Solomon Islands A2J Project is supporting the training and deployment of Community Legal Advocates (CLAs) to bridge rural and remote communities to the formal justice system.

The CLAs have been selected by their own communities and will enhance community access to justice, in particular for marginalized groups including women, youth and people with disabilities. As an innovative addition to the justice sector, the thirteen CLAs (seven female and six male) from the three provinces in the pilot project that is Temotu, Malaita and Western Provinces, will extend the reach of the PSO to the most remote parts of the islands including North and South Malaita, Seghe, Shortlands, Vella la Vella, Kolombangara, Santa Cruz and Reef Islands.

The two-week intensive training was led by Solomon Islands lawyer and academic, Ms. Cathy Hite with support from a panel of national and international experts, the A2J Project and the PSO. It incorporated sessions to develop communication skills, understanding of the justice system, skill development in conducting awareness raising and mediation. During the multi-agency training, the participants gained an understanding of the inter-related services delivered by other justice stakeholders including the World Bank, Regional Rights Resource Team, Seif Ples and People With Disabilities Solomon Islands (PWDSI).

Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project and UNDP team, MJLA representatives, Australian High Commission, and the Community Legal Advocates. (Photo: UNDP)

Representative from the Public Solicitor’s Office, Mr. Howard Lawry acknowledged the valuable support from the Australian Government.

He said, “There has been an immeasurable amount for work and commitment for funding in the background to enable the vision to proceed.”

Mr. Lawry added, “The CLAs will enhance access to justice especially for women, youth and marginalised groups in communities outside the urban centers.”

UNDP in Solomon Islands Operations Manager, Mr. Keswar Leelah, congratulated the CLAs on their selection and training completion and reiterated the importance of accessing formal justice as a vital part of UNDP’s mandate to reduce poverty and strengthen democratic governance.

First Secretary, Australian High Commission, Ms. Kate Webb said, “Australia is a proud partner of Solomon Islands in supporting the justice sector and enable grass roots to access justice. These CLAs will play an important role in their own communities, in advocating for the most vulnerable people and settle local disputes. We are proud to partner with UNDP to deliver such an important project.”

The Solomon Islands Access to Justice project supports the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and in particular SDG 5 in relation to gender equality, SDG 10 that seeks to reduce inequality and SDG 16 that promotes peace, justice and strong institutions.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Ms. Grace Williams, Third Secretary, Public Diplomacy and Political, Australian High Commission; tel: (677) 21561; email: grace.williams@dfat.gov.au

Ms. Rachel Abi, Information Officer, Public Solicitor’s Office; tel: (677) 28406; email: rabi@pso.gov.sb

Mr Ednal R. Palmer, Communications Consultant, Effective Governance Team, UNDP in the Solomon Islands Office; tel: (677) 27446 / 7336633; email: ednal.palmer@undp.org

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