Consultations on reparation policy framework underway

(SIG Release): Close to one hundred Representatives from Western, Guadalcanal and Honiara City were consulted on the Government’s proposed Reparation Policy Framework this week.

A Government Working Group from the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (MNURP), the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) and the UNDP Honiara Office conducted the consultation meetings respectively in Gizo on Monday and in Honiara on Tuesday.

The consultations were aimed at informing and gathering peoples’ views and feelings on how a comprehensive Reparation Policy Framework should be formulated to guide the implementation of the reparation process.

Reparation or repairing past damages to people’s lives during the Ethnic Tensions and the Bougainville Crisis was one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report.

The TRC Report has recommended that a “leading public body” should be established in the office of the Prime Minister by an Act of Parliament to monitor and facilitate the implementation of the recommendations, one of which is Reparation.

Previous Peace Building efforts by the Government through the MNURP have met challenges in attempts to establish lasting peace due to the absence of a comprehensive policy framework and a legislation to guide peace building processes.

As a result, the National Government has redirected the MNURP to work on a proper policy framework and a legislation to guide the administration of the Reparation process.

At this stage, the goal of the Reparation Policy is to contribute in an effective, timely and appropriate manner to repair the lives of victims of serious human rights violations that occurred during the conflict. The Policy will also contribute to the rehabilitation of those whose lives were seriously affected by those violations and conflict.

The Government notes that past conflicts and widespread human rights violations have created deep divisions between the Solomon Islands cultural and ethnic groups and caused great suffering for thousands of victims.

This has pointed to the need to understand the root causes of the violations and their impacts addressed in order to achieve true reconciliation and lasting peace.

The proposed policy recognises both the limited available resources and the duty owed by the Solomon Islands Government to take effective steps to repair the damage caused to the lives of victims during periods when the government was unable to protect them.

The policy further recognises that reparations are necessary for the healing of victims, that communities affected by the conflict need to be assisted so that they are resilient and peaceful, and that rehabilitation of those involved in the conflict is an important contributor to future peace.

As such, the Government is committed to the creation of simple, effective and appropriate mechanisms to address the outstanding issues from the past conflicts, and to rapidly and appropriately address the failure to assist those victims who suffered the most grievous forms of violations in those conflicts.

The current draft policy has three policy goals;

• To strengthen social cohesion by fulfilling the rights to reparation of victims of violence and human rights abuses during the tension,

• To promote the TRC findings and preserve memory as a way to dignify victims and strengthen peace and human rights,

• To support national and community reconciliation, healing, and rehabilitation.

Explaining the process to participants, lead consultant and Peace Building expert Patrick Burgess said the most fundamental duty of a government is to protect its citizens and when a government has failed in this duty the State has the duty to repair the damage to victims’ lives and restore victims to a condition as if they have not been victimized.

The consultation process was coordinated by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace with support from the United Nations Peace Building Fund project implemented by the UNDP and the UN Women project.

The Working Group on the Reparation Policy will travel to Malaita on Wednesday (24 October) to conduct a similar consultation process there.