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Solomon Islands[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

The Solomon Islands ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on April 10, 1995.

 

Although severe child abuse is outlawed by the Penal Code Section 226, the child protection system in the Solomon Islands is largely informal.  According to the Solomon Islands own report to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, the only organizations that investigate cases of child abuse or neglect are churches and NGOs such as the Red Cross.[2]  There are no obligatory reporting requirements and “no services for child victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse apart from within the extended family.”[3]  Thus cases of abuse are dealt with through the community, churches or extended family if they are dealt with it all.  According to the country's report to the U.N., the Constitution and the Penal Code are rarely invoked to formally prosecute an offender.[4]  Both the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and the government of the Solomon Islands agree that child abuse is rampant in homes and schools.[5]   

 

The extended family is central to Solomon Islands culture and is the reason there is no formal procedure for cases of abuse and neglect.  Similarly, there is no government sponsored foster care system or special institutions for children who have been abused or neglected to live in.  The extended family network is expected to provide for a child not living with her family.[6]

 

There are no formal abuse or neglect proceedings in the Solomon Islands in which the child could express her view and wishes.  There are two types of formal proceedings in which the court can indirectly protect a child from abuse or neglect: custody disputes and adoption cases.  In custody disputes, regulated by the Affiliation, Separation and Maintenance Act of 1996, the court may find that one parent is abusive and thus order that parent from the home and award custody to the non-abusive parent.  In practice, children are sometimes given the right to express their preferences in custody disputes although it is not required by the law.  This varies according to the particular judge hearing the case.  A 2004 law on adoption allows the court to make an order authorizing an adoption without the parents' consent if the child has been “abandoned, neglected or persistently ill-treated.”  It is noteworthy that the court in an adoption proceeding may appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for the best interests of the child.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified April 10, 1995.[7]

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Statutes

 

Solomon Islands Penal Code

 

Part XXI: Duties Relating to the Preservation of Life and Health

 

Section 225

It is the duty of any person having charge of a child under 15 years to provide the necessaries of life to the child.

 

Section 226

It is a crime for any person over 15 year having charge of any person under 15 years who willfully assaults, neglects, abandons, or exposes him, or causes or procures him to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

 

Affiliation, Separation and Maintenance Act of 1996[8]

 

Article 24

(3) Where on an application for an order under this section the court is satisfied-

(a) that the respondent has used violence against the person of the applicant or a child of the family; or

(b) that the respondent has threatened to use violence against the person of the applicant or a child of the family and has used violence against some other person; or

(c) that the respondent has in contravention of an order made under subsection (2) threatened to use violence against the person of the applicant or a child of the family, and that the applicant or a child of the family is in danger of being physically injured by the respondent (or would be in such danger if the applicant or child were to enter the matrimonial home) the court may make one or both of the following orders that is to say-

(i) an order requiring the respondent to leave the matrimonial home;

(ii) an order prohibiting the respondent from entering the matrimonial home.

 

Adoption Act of 2004[9]

 

Article 2: Definitions

(1)“infant” means a person under eighteen years of age, but does not include a person who is or has been married.

 

Article 7

(1) The Court may dispense with any consent required by paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 6 of this Act, if its is satisfied that the person whose consent is to be dispensed with -

(a) has abandoned, neglected or persistently ill-treated the infant

 

Article 11

(2) For the purpose of any application in Solomon Islands for an adoption order, the court shall, subject to such regulations that may be made by the Minister, appoint some person to act as guardian ad litem of the infant upon the hearing of the application with the duty of safe-guarding the interests of the infant before the court.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Kenneth H. Averre

Director

Public Solicitor's Office

P.O. Box 553

Honiara, Solomon Islands

Phone: 00-677-28405

Fax: 00-677-28409

Mobile: 00-677-94552

kenaverre@pso.gov.sb

 

[The Public Solicitor's Office is a legal aid service with a staff of 12 attorneys that provides representation to children in the criminal justice system and also in family proceedings.]

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Constitution of the Solomon Islands: http://www.paclii.org/sb/legis/consol_act/cosi353/

 

Official webpage of the Government of the Solomon Islands: http://www.commerce.gov.sb/

 

UNICEF Solomon Islands: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/solomonislands.html

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Solomon Islands Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/51/Add.6 (2002), at ¶ 193, available as .pdf Document.

[3] Id.

[4] Id., at ¶ 194.

[5] Id., at ¶¶ 18, 192; Concluding Observations on the Solomon Islands by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.208 (2003), at ¶¶ 30(a), 36(a)  available as .pdf Document.

[6] Solomon Islands Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, at ¶¶ 214-220.

[7] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[8] Affiliation, Separation and Maintenance Act (1996), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Adoption Act, No. 4 (2004), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 

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