‘Law reform is a serious business’

Law reform is a serious business says the Chairman of Law Reform Commission Frank Bollen Paulsen.

And he said it should be taken seriously by those (them) who lead law reform projects.

Mr Paulsen was speaking at the launch of the ‘Personal Harm Offences’ Consultation paper on Monday at the Mendana Hotel in Honiara.

“…I would like to reiterate that the importance of law reform should be taken seriously by those of us who lead law reform projects including ministerial committees and advisors to the government law reform projects.

“We must bear in mind that law reform is a serious business and we who are involve in law reform work must take it seriously,” he said.

“This is because we are dealing with human beings. It is really about protecting lives, rights, welfare and interest of our people,” he added.

“Effective law reforms give opportunity (s), security and empowerment to the poor and weak.

“Law reform is used as one of the tools to engage/shape developing nations through the reform of outdated and autocratic laws by replacing them with laws that advance democratic values and promote the rule of law.

“It gives better accessibility to justice and improves court operations adding It improves the administration of Justice through the reform of substantive and procedural laws as well as institutional reform,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the launch of the consultation paper on Monday marks the beginning of public consultations by the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission (SILRC) for this inquiry.

The consultation paper is titled ‘Personal Harm Offences Consultation Paper’. The paper is part of a review that the SILRC is doing of the Penal Code [Cap 26] of Solomon Islands.

It considers parts in the Penal Code that apply when an attack or threat of attack is inflicted or directed at another person which do not result in death but fear, injury or harm is done to the other person.

The consultation paper was launched by the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable William B. Marau.

The law on personal harm offences was introduced in the Solomon Islands in the early 1960s, and is based on the English law.

The personal harm offences covered in the paper are: 1) assaults which include common assaults, assaults causing actual bodily harm, acts intended to cause grievous harm, unlawful wounding, and grievous harm; 2) poisoning; 3) kidnapping and abduction; 4) criminal reckless and negligence 5) Failure to supply necessaries and cruelty to children; 6) Intimidation, molestation and making a written threat to kill; and 7) negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to human life.

The SILRC has identified a number of issues which needs to be considered for reform in order to accommodate the current and future circumstances of the Country. The issues are as follows:

  • Lack of definitions for some personal harm offences in the Penal Code.
  • The degree of penalties should consider the different circumstances of which the offences are committed.
  • The development of personal harm offences which raises the need of some offences to be included in the Penal Code.
  • The need to reform the offences to protect the vulnerable people in the society.

The main objective of the Consultation Paper is to raise awareness to the important stakeholders, interested individuals and the public at large of the current law and the issues relating to the personal harm offences.

The Consultation Paper is also aimed at encouraging stakeholders and the public to come forward and discuss their views and comments on the personal harm offences and how the law should be reformed.

This is to assist the SILRC to develop recommendations for changes to the current law on personal harm offences that will reflect the changing societal views and aspirations.

The SILRC through its legal staff will conduct consultation on this inquiry, and hopes to engage with as many people as possible during its consultations.