A female lawyer has joined the magistracy after being sworn in as a Principal Magistrate yesterday in the High Court.
She is Tearo Beneteti from Wagina in Choiseul Province.
Ms Beneteti first joined the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008 right after graduating from law school in Vanuatu.
After almost four years there, she was then transferred to the Public Solicitor’s Office dealing with criminal and civil cases until May 2014.
That is when she left for further studies at Monash University in Melbourne and returned in October 2015 with her Masters in Law.
She then applied last year for the Magistrate’s post that was vacant and got the position.
Welcoming Ms Beneteti to the bench yesterday, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer said Ms Beneteti has been appointed based on her outstanding performances as a legal officer and her sense of commitment to duty and understanding what it takes to be a judicial officer.
“Her appointment has not been made lightly for we are only too familiar with the rough and tumble in the work of a Magistrate, the daily demands and strains of having to make decisions on almost a daily basis which affects the lives of offenders, including whether to impose a penalty or not,” Sir Albert said.
“The work of a Magistrate is not going to be easy and will require strength and courage on your part and commitment to your duty statements and oath to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of Solomon Islands, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
“But it is for that very reason you have been selected and entrusted with the responsibilities of not only protecting and maintaining the independence, reputation and integrity of the Courts in the Country but that you will also be able to deliver justice timely, fairly and impartially.
“I can assure you that you will not be left alone to struggle in the dark but we will endeavour to ensure that you are properly equipped from the outset with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to carry out your duties well as a Magistrate,” Sir Albert told Ms Beneteti.
Sir Albert said he is pleased to note that gender balance is being supported too through this appointment and that this not only increases the number of women Magistrates on the Bench but also will assist and add strength to the work of the Magistracy to provide justice.
“As the Courts’ doors open for the New Year 2017 your timely appointment will improve access to the courts for our people.
“I note however, there are still vacancies to be filled and encourage lawyers who are interested to develop a career on the Bench to apply.”
He wished Ms Beneteti well and God’s blessings as she begins a new career on the Bench.
Chief Magistrate John Numapo said Ms Beneteti’s swearing in yesterday will bring number of magistrates to 12 in total.
He said there are nine Principal Magistrates including the Chief Magistrate and three second class magistrates.
“Ms Beneteti will be based here at the Central Magistrates’ Court in Honiara,” Mr Numapo said.
He said another Principal Magistrate Jim Seuika will be transferred to Gizo to replace Principal Magistrate Ricky Iomea who is coming to Honiara.
He added that their magistrate in Auki, Principal Magistrate Edwin Saramo, will be relocated to Honiara due to ill health and another magistrate will be sent there to replace him.
“My plan is to move magistrates around every two to three years so that they do not stay long in one place which might make it difficult for them to do their jobs.”
Ms Beneteti told the Solomon Star that she is looking forward to her new job.
She said it is a huge responsibility and a big challenge for her but it would be interesting to learn and work from the bench.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN, SOLOMON STAR