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TITLE:  SOLOMON ISLANDS HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                        SOLOMON ISLANDS


Solomon Islands, populated by approximately 386,000 people, is 
an archipelago stretching over 840 miles in the South Pacific.  
Its government is a modified parliamentary system consisting of 
a single-chamber legislative assembly of 47 members.  Executive 
authority lies with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.  The 
Prime Minister, elected by a majority vote of Parliament, 
selects his own Cabinet.  Political legitimacy rests on direct 
election by secret ballot.  There have been four general 
elections since independence, most recently in June 1993.

A police force of about 500 men under civilian control is 
responsible for law enforcement.  There were no reports of 
police abuse of human rights.

About 85 percent of the population engages to some extent in 
subsistence farming, obtaining food by gardening and fishing, 
and has little involvement in the cash economy.  Improved 
export performance, particularly in the forestry sector, 
continued in 1994.

Most basic individual rights are provided for in the 
Constitution, respected by the authorities, and defended by an 
independent judiciary.  Discrimination and violence against 
women remain serious problems, and the Government on occasion 
has imposed restrictions on the press.  There is a 
constitutionally provided Ombudsman to look into and provide 
protection against improper or unlawful administrative 
treatment.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of political disappearance.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

These practices are prohibited by law and not known to occur.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

There was no evidence of politically motivated arrests or 
detentions.  Exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system consists of a high court and magistrates' 
courts.  Accused persons are entitled to counsel.  The law 
provides for a judicial determination of the legality of 
arrests.  Violations of civil liberties are punishable by fines 
and jail sentences.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

In addition to legal provisions, the traditional culture 
provides strong protection against these types of abuses.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitutional provisions for freedom of speech and of the 
press are generally respected.  The Government in the past had 
attempted to censor the news or ban broadcasts because of 
political sensitivities.  In March the Government lifted a ban 
imposed by the Hilly government on transmission by the 
government-financed Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation 
(SIBC) of any news about the insurrection in nearby 
Bougainville (Papua New Guinea), and on April 25 the Prime 
Minister announced that all restrictions on broadcasting about 
the Bougainville crisis had been removed.

The press was instrumental in exposing a scandal that led to 
the resignation of the nation's Finance Minister in 1994.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of association, and 
this right is freely exercised.  Demonstrators must obtain a 
permit, but permits have never been denied on political grounds.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The law provides for freedom of religion.  Organized religions 
as well as indigenous beliefs are freely practiced.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government places neither legal nor administrative 
restrictions on the movement of citizens within or out of the 
country.  Native-born citizens may not be deprived of 
citizenship on any grounds.  Although they have not been 
formally granted asylum, a limited number of displaced persons 
from Papua New Guinea's North Solomons province, the site of 
conflict on Bougainville, have been allowed to remain in the 
country indefinitely.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the right to change their government through 
periodic free elections.  Since independence, Solomon Islands 
has had four parliamentary elections, most recently in June 
1993, and several elections for provincial and local councils.  
On four other occasions, changes of government resulted from 
either parliamentary votes of no confidence or the resignation 
of the Prime Minister.  Prime Minister Francis Hilly Billy, 
facing a certain vote of no confidence, resigned in November.  
Former Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni was then elected as 
Prime Minister.  The Parliament convened twice in 1994, first 
in January, to complete the work of the November 1993 budget 
session, and in November.  Suffrage is universal over the age 
of 18.

Traditional male dominance has limited the role of women in 
government.  Only 1 of 47 Members of Parliament is a woman.  
She also served as 1 of 18 ministers in the Hilly Government.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

While there are no restrictions on the formation of local 
organizations to monitor and report on human rights, none has 
been established to date.  There were no known requests for 
investigation by outside human rights organizations.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

The law accords women equal legal rights.  However, in this 
traditional society males are dominant, and women are limited 
to customary family roles.  This situation has prevented women 
from taking more active roles in economic and political life.  
A shortage of employment opportunities throughout the country 
has inhibited the entry of women into the work force.

While actual statistical data are scarce, incidents of wife 
beating and wife abuse appear to be common.  In the rare cases 
that are reported, charges are often dropped by the women 
before the court appearance or are settled out of court.  
Police are reluctant to interfere in what they perceive as 
domestic disputes.  In addition, many of the laws benefiting 
women derive from the British tradition and are viewed by many 
Solomon Islanders as "foreign laws" not reflective of their own 
customs and traditions.  The magistrates courts deal with 
physical abuse of women as they would any other assault, 
although prosecutions are rare.  However, in March a Malaita 
man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his wife.

     Children

Within the limits of its resources, the Government is committed 
to the welfare and protection of the rights of children.  
Children are respected and protected within the traditional 
extended-family system, in accordance with the family's 
financial resources and access to services.  As a result, 
virtually no children are homeless or abandoned.  Although some 
cases of child abuse are reported, there is no pattern of 
societal abuse.  The Constitution grants children the same 
general rights and protection as adults.  Existing laws are 
designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, 
and neglect.

     People with Disabilities

There is no law or national policy on the disabled, and no 
legislation mandates access for the disabled.  Protection and 
care of the disabled are left to the traditional extended 
family and nongovernmental organizations.  Informally, the 
disabled in urban areas frequently find work in the public 
service sector.  However, with high unemployment countrywide 
and few jobs available in the formal sector, most disabled 
persons, particularly those in rural areas, do not find work 
outside the family structure.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution implicitly recognizes the right of workers in 
the public and private sectors to form or join unions, to 
choose their own representatives, to determine and pursue their 
own views and policies, and to engage in political activities.  
The courts have confirmed these rights.  From 20 to 25 percent 
of the total population participate in the formal sector of the 
economy.  Of that, approximately 60 to 70 percent are 
organized:  90 percent of the public sector and about 50 
percent of the private sector.

The law allows strikes, but there were none of note in 1994.  
The unions seldom resort to strikes, preferring instead to 
negotiate.  Disputes are usually referred quickly to the Trade 
Disputes Panel (TDP) for arbitration, either before or during a 
strike.  Employees are protected from arbitrary dismissal while 
the TDP is deliberating.  In practice, the small percentage of 
workers actually involved in the wage economy means that 
employers have an ample supply of replacement workers if 
disputes are not resolved quickly.  There is some legal 
protection for workers against retaliatory actions by 
employers.  Once a case has been referred to the TDP, the 
employer cannot undertake a lockout or summarily dismiss 
employees.

Unions are free to affiliate internationally, and the largest 
trade union, the Solomon Islands' Union of Workers, is 
affiliated with the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation 
of Trade Unions (WFTU).  The Union of Workers remains loosely 
affiliated with the WFTU.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Trade Disputes Act of 1981 provides for the right to 
organize and bargain collectively, and unions engage in it 
frequently.

Wages and conditions of employment are determined by collective 
bargaining.  If disputes between labor and management cannot be 
settled between the two sides, the disputes are referred to the 
TDP for arbitration.  The three-member TDP, comprising a 
chairman appointed by the judiciary, a labor representative, 
and a business representative, is independent and neutral.

The law protects workers against antiunion activity, and there 
are no areas where union activity is officially discouraged.  
There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except as part of a 
court sentence or order, and this prohibition is observed.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law forbids child labor for children under the age of 12, 
except when performed in the company of parents in light 
agriculture or domestic work.  Children under 15 are barred 
from work in industry or on ships; those under age 18 may not 
work underground or in mines.  The Labor Division of the 
Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry is responsible for 
enforcing child labor laws.  Given low wages and high 
unemployment, there is little incentive to employ child labor.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The present minimum hourly wage rate of approximately $0.23 has 
been in place since 1988.  All independently negotiated wages 
are above this figure.  The legal minimum wage is not adequate 
to sustain a family of four in the capital of Honiara.  Because 
most of the population is dependent to some extent on the 
subsistence economy, and as there is high unemployment and 
underemployment, workers are available at current wage rates.

The Labor Act of 1969, as amended, and the Employment Act of 
1981, as well as other laws, regulate premium pay, sick leave, 
the right to paid vacations, and other conditions of service.  
The standard workweek is 45 hours and limited to 6 days 
weekly.  There are provisions for premium pay for overtime and 
holiday, work as well as provisions for maternity leave.

Both an active labor movement and an independent judiciary 
ensure widespread enforcement of labor laws in major state and 
private enterprises.  The Commissioner of Labor, the Public 
Prosecutor, and the police are responsible for enforcing labor 
laws.  However, they usually react to charges of labor law 
violation rather than take the initiative in monitoring 
adherence to these laws.  The extent to which the law is 
enforced in smaller establishments and in the subsistence 
sector is unclear.  Safety and health standards appear to be 
adequate.  Malaria is endemic in the Solomon Islands and 
affects the health of many employees.  Agricultural workers 
have a high risk of contracting malaria but are not provided 
with malaria suppressants.


(###)##









                      SOLOMON ISLANDS

##
TITLE:  SOLOMON ISLANDS HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                        SOLOMON ISLANDS


Solomon Islands, populated by approximately 386,000 people, is 
an archipelago stretching over 840 miles in the South Pacific.  
Its government is a modified parliamentary system consisting of 
a single-chamber legislative assembly of 47 members.  Executive 
authority lies with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.  The 
Prime Minister, elected by a majority vote of Parliament, 
selects his own Cabinet.  Political legitimacy rests on direct 
election by secret ballot.  There have been four general 
elections since independence, most recently in June 1993.

A police force of about 500 men under civilian control is 
responsible for law enforcement.  There were no reports of 
police abuse of human rights.

About 85 percent of the population engages to some extent in 
subsistence farming, obtaining food by gardening and fishing, 
and has little involvement in the cash economy.  Improved 
export performance, particularly in the forestry sector, 
continued in 1994.

Most basic individual rights are provided for in the 
Constitution, respected by the authorities, and defended by an 
independent judiciary.  Discrimination and violence against 
women remain serious problems, and the Government on occasion 
has imposed restrictions on the press.  There is a 
constitutionally provided Ombudsman to look into and provide 
protection against improper or unlawful administrative 
treatment.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of political disappearance.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

These practices are prohibited by law and not known to occur.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

There was no evidence of politically motivated arrests or 
detentions.  Exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system consists of a high court and magistrates' 
courts.  Accused persons are entitled to counsel.  The law 
provides for a judicial determination of the legality of 
arrests.  Violations of civil liberties are punishable by fines 
and jail sentences.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

In addition to legal provisions, the traditional culture 
provides strong protection against these types of abuses.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitutional provisions for freedom of speech and of the 
press are generally respected.  The Government in the past had 
attempted to censor the news or ban broadcasts because of 
political sensitivities.  In March the Government lifted a ban 
imposed by the Hilly government on transmission by the 
government-financed Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation 
(SIBC) of any news about the insurrection in nearby 
Bougainville (Papua New Guinea), and on April 25 the Prime 
Minister announced that all restrictions on broadcasting about 
the Bougainville crisis had been removed.

The press was instrumental in exposing a scandal that led to 
the resignation of the nation's Finance Minister in 1994.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of association, and 
this right is freely exercised.  Demonstrators must obtain a 
permit, but permits have never been denied on political grounds.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The law provides for freedom of religion.  Organized religions 
as well as indigenous beliefs are freely practiced.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government places neither legal nor administrative 
restrictions on the movement of citizens within or out of the 
country.  Native-born citizens may not be deprived of 
citizenship on any grounds.  Although they have not been 
formally granted asylum, a limited number of displaced persons 
from Papua New Guinea's North Solomons province, the site of 
conflict on Bougainville, have been allowed to remain in the 
country indefinitely.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the right to change their government through 
periodic free elections.  Since independence, Solomon Islands 
has had four parliamentary elections, most recently in June 
1993, and several elections for provincial and local councils.  
On four other occasions, changes of government resulted from 
either parliamentary votes of no confidence or the resignation 
of the Prime Minister.  Prime Minister Francis Hilly Billy, 
facing a certain vote of no confidence, resigned in November.  
Former Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni was then elected as 
Prime Minister.  The Parliament convened twice in 1994, first 
in January, to complete the work of the November 1993 budget 
session, and in November.  Suffrage is universal over the age 
of 18.

Traditional male dominance has limited the role of women in 
government.  Only 1 of 47 Members of Parliament is a woman.  
She also served as 1 of 18 ministers in the Hilly Government.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

While there are no restrictions on the formation of local 
organizations to monitor and report on human rights, none has 
been established to date.  There were no known requests for 
investigation by outside human rights organizations.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

The law accords women equal legal rights.  However, in this 
traditional society males are dominant, and women are limited 
to customary family roles.  This situation has prevented women 
from taking more active roles in economic and political life.  
A shortage of employment opportunities throughout the country 
has inhibited the entry of women into the work force.

While actual statistical data are scarce, incidents of wife 
beating and wife abuse appear to be common.  In the rare cases 
that are reported, charges are often dropped by the women 
before the court appearance or are settled out of court.  
Police are reluctant to interfere in what they perceive as 
domestic disputes.  In addition, many of the laws benefiting 
women derive from the British tradition and are viewed by many 
Solomon Islanders as "foreign laws" not reflective of their own 
customs and traditions.  The magistrates courts deal with 
physical abuse of women as they would any other assault, 
although prosecutions are rare.  However, in March a Malaita 
man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his wife.

     Children

Within the limits of its resources, the Government is committed 
to the welfare and protection of the rights of children.  
Children are respected and protected within the traditional 
extended-family system, in accordance with the family's 
financial resources and access to services.  As a result, 
virtually no children are homeless or abandoned.  Although some 
cases of child abuse are reported, there is no pattern of 
societal abuse.  The Constitution grants children the same 
general rights and protection as adults.  Existing laws are 
designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, 
and neglect.

     People with Disabilities

There is no law or national policy on the disabled, and no 
legislation mandates access for the disabled.  Protection and 
care of the disabled are left to the traditional extended 
family and nongovernmental organizations.  Informally, the 
disabled in urban areas frequently find work in the public 
service sector.  However, with high unemployment countrywide 
and few jobs available in the formal sector, most disabled 
persons, particularly those in rural areas, do not find work 
outside the family structure.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution implicitly recognizes the right of workers in 
the public and private sectors to form or join unions, to 
choose their own representatives, to determine and pursue their 
own views and policies, and to engage in political activities.  
The courts have confirmed these rights.  From 20 to 25 percent 
of the total population participate in the formal sector of the 
economy.  Of that, approximately 60 to 70 percent are 
organized:  90 percent of the public sector and about 50 
percent of the private sector.

The law allows strikes, but there were none of note in 1994.  
The unions seldom resort to strikes, preferring instead to 
negotiate.  Disputes are usually referred quickly to the Trade 
Disputes Panel (TDP) for arbitration, either before or during a 
strike.  Employees are protected from arbitrary dismissal while 
the TDP is deliberating.  In practice, the small percentage of 
workers actually involved in the wage economy means that 
employers have an ample supply of replacement workers if 
disputes are not resolved quickly.  There is some legal 
protection for workers against retaliatory actions by 
employers.  Once a case has been referred to the TDP, the 
employer cannot undertake a lockout or summarily dismiss 
employees.

Unions are free to affiliate internationally, and the largest 
trade union, the Solomon Islands' Union of Workers, is 
affiliated with the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation 
of Trade Unions (WFTU).  The Union of Workers remains loosely 
affiliated with the WFTU.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Trade Disputes Act of 1981 provides for the right to 
organize and bargain collectively, and unions engage in it 
frequently.

Wages and conditions of employment are determined by collective 
bargaining.  If disputes between labor and management cannot be 
settled between the two sides, the disputes are referred to the 
TDP for arbitration.  The three-member TDP, comprising a 
chairman appointed by the judiciary, a labor representative, 
and a business representative, is independent and neutral.

The law protects workers against antiunion activity, and there 
are no areas where union activity is officially discouraged.  
There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except as part of a 
court sentence or order, and this prohibition is observed.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law forbids child labor for children under the age of 12, 
except when performed in the company of parents in light 
agriculture or domestic work.  Children under 15 are barred 
from work in industry or on ships; those under age 18 may not 
work underground or in mines.  The Labor Division of the 
Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry is responsible for 
enforcing child labor laws.  Given low wages and high 
unemployment, there is little incentive to employ child labor.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The present minimum hourly wage rate of approximately $0.23 has 
been in place since 1988.  All independently negotiated wages 
are above this figure.  The legal minimum wage is not adequate 
to sustain a family of four in the capital of Honiara.  Because 
most of the population is dependent to some extent on the 
subsistence economy, and as there is high unemployment and 
underemployment, workers are available at current wage rates.

The Labor Act of 1969, as amended, and the Employment Act of 
1981, as well as other laws, regulate premium pay, sick leave, 
the right to paid vacations, and other conditions of service.  
The standard workweek is 45 hours and limited to 6 days 
weekly.  There are provisions for premium pay for overtime and 
holiday, work as well as provisions for maternity leave.

Both an active labor movement and an independent judiciary 
ensure widespread enforcement of labor laws in major state and 
private enterprises.  The Commissioner of Labor, the Public 
Prosecutor, and the police are responsible for enforcing labor 
laws.  However, they usually react to charges of labor law 
violation rather than take the initiative in monitoring 
adherence to these laws.  The extent to which the law is 
enforced in smaller establishments and in the subsistence 
sector is unclear.  Safety and health standards appear to be 
adequate.  Malaria is endemic in the Solomon Islands and 
affects the health of many employees.  Agricultural workers 
have a high risk of contracting malaria but are not provided 
with malaria suppressants.


(###)

[end of document]

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