Honiara, Solomon Islands - The Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) is on the road to reaching the most remote communities in Malaita to enhance access to justice in the province.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Solomon Islands Office through the Access to Justice Project is supporting the PSO with a vehicle and corresponding safety equipment to strengthen the capacity of the PSO to serve beyond urban centres. More reliable transport will enable the provincial PSO office to access remote communities for legal outreach through education, awareness and service delivery.
The Access to Justice Project is funded by the Australian Government and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the PSO and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MJLA).
The handover ceremony was attended by the Permanent Secretary of MJLA Dr. Paul Mae, the Public Solicitor Mr George Gray, Australian High Commission Governance Counsellor Mr Andrew Elborn and UNDP Country Manager Mr. Berdi Berdiyev.
Ms Susan Kwanairara, a Community Legal Advocate (CLA) under the Access to Justice Project was also at the ceremony. In her role as a CLA, she provides a grassroots PSO presence in her North Malaita community of Darawarau since recently graduating from the CLA legal empowerment course in October.
“The road from Auki to Malu’u, let alone other northern communities, is a challenge, particularly with the heavy rain. It is also a long and expensive journey for people to travel between these locations. Having a vehicle to bring justice services to the people will make a positive difference to communities,” she reflected.
MJLA Permanent Secretary Dr. Paul Mae stated the support from the Access to Justice Project towards the Public Solicitors Office in Auki is a timely gesture of support from UNDP and DFAT towards the program.
“It will strengthen the connection between the Public Solicitors and the paralegal officer in Auki with their CLAs in the communities. It will also encourage the Public Solicitors to engage more with the communities in Malaita through the awareness programs,” Dr Paul said.
Public Solicitor, Mr George Gray thanked the Australian Government for providing the necessary funds to enable the purchase of the vehicle and to UNDP for the on-going support to the PSO.
“With this vehicle, our PSO lawyers based in Auki would be able to reach out to remote communities and villages in Malaita,” Mr Gray said.
Governance Counsellor from the Australian High Commission, Mr Andrew Elborn stated “Australia is proud of its ongoing efforts to support the Public Solicitors Office provide access to justice for Solomon Islanders”.
Mr Elborn thanked the Public Solicitor, Mr George Gray and his staff for working diligently to ensure the community in Auki has greater engagement and confidence in the justice system.
UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager Mr. Berdiyev expressed gratitude for the Australian Government’s funding support, and the strong partnership with the MJLA, through the PSO for its continuous support towards the implementation of the project and the collaborative effort to ensure that no one is left behind.
For more information or media inquiries please contact:
Ednal R. Palmer, Communications Specialist, Effective Governance Team, UNDP Solomon Islands Office. P: (677) 27446/7336633 E: firstname.lastname@example.org