‘Half-cooked bill?

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National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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Government questioned over lack of consultation and tabling timeline of traditional bill

THE Civil Society Sector is outraged at the lack of consultation involved in the construction and proposed timeline for tabling of the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill

“Why must our elected representatives, be so determined to pass this bill without proper consultation, riddled with unclear terms and sections that may very well contradict our constitution,” Casper Fa’asala, General Secretary National Council of Women said.

Fa’asala says this ahead of a planned meeting with the Bills and Legislation committee today by the civil society.

The group will include the voices of women and youth, two groups that are largely excluded from decision making within the proposed legislation.

“In our country there are both patrilineal and matrilineal societies. Women, traditional custodians, were not included in these consultations,” Fa’asala said.

The time allowed for submissions on the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill was only one week. The ‘consultations’ involved in authoring the bill were brief.

“If the government does not desist in this failure of process, that many view to have corrupt motivations, we will protest. They must delay the submission deadline and passage of this bill.

“We will not rest until this bill is properly scrutinized and we are sure that it will not breed greater corruption particularly in relation to land and resource exploitation,” Faasala said.

The Anti- Corruption Bill, just recently passed, was more than three years in the making.

Inia Barry, Chairman Development Services Exchange, said, “This bill has serious potential to strip land rights from Solomon Islanders, one of the only indigenous populations to hold onto our customary land rights.

“It can also create great discord and tension within communities if the language does not become more specific.

“We must take this seriously, we must be allowed to scrutinise the bill.”

The CSO Sector has also announced that it will raise further concerns at the haste given to the Mining Bill.

“This government has an atrocious record when it comes to legislating the appointment of chiefs. Those who can’t walk should not try to run. Why are they running from us – what is their true motivation?” Fa’asala said.

CSO also plans to voice out further concerns to the SIG government, along with other partner groups including: Development Services Exchange, National Council of Women, Honiara Youth Council, Malaita Provincial Council of Women, Temotu Provincial Council of Women, Isobel National Council of Women, Makira Conservation Network, Natural Resource Development Foundation Western Province, Forum Solomon Islands, Solomon Island Development Trust and Vois Blong Mere Solomon.

–CSO PRESS

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