MORE than 100 traditional and community leaders around Malaita province have welcomed the proposed Reparation Bill which is aimed at addressing outstanding issues triggered by the Solomon Islands ethnic tension and the effects of the Bougainville Crisis.
A joint government team from the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (MNRUP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with representatives of other line ministries have held consultations on the bill at Buma Village in West Kwara’ae over two days to gather the views of Malaitan people on the bill.
The consultation process will be helpful to assist in the formulation of the Reparation Bill and to develop a Reparation Policy Framework that will address outstanding grievances stemming from the two conflicts.
Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Division, Reuben Lilo said the consultation process is the first step towards drafting of the bill and the formulation of a policy framework that will guide the reparation process.
The reparation process is one of the priority areas of the ruling Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) under its Peace Rehabilitation Policy.
Many Solomon Islanders have been victimised during the two conflicts and the national government is moving towards addressing their outstanding grievances in order to re-establish lasting peace in the country.
The Reparation process is one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report and the SIDCC Government is keen to seriously pursue it with the aim to re-establish lasting peace in Solomon Islands.
The TRC report has recommended the enactment of a Reparation Act to provide a legal framework for the reparation process.
The Reparation Act will also guide the establishment of a Solomon Islands Reparation Commission (SIRC) as well as the drawing up of a Comprehensive Reparation Plan (CRP) to support the administration of the reparation process.
Many speakers including traditional leaders, ex-combatants, women and youth representatives said the bill is a welcoming development that will lead towards the re-establishment of peaceful co-existence in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the Malaita Provincial Government, MPA for Ward 16, Finley Fiumae said Malaita Province appreciates this proposed bill which it believed will address Malaitans’ outstanding grievances during the tension.
“We are hopeful that this bill will be passed so that the pain and suffering endured by Malaitans during the tension are settled once and for all,” Mr Fiumae said.
Former Malaita Premier David Oeta also reminded the National Government to ensure the bill is passed before the dissolution of Parliament at the end of the year.
“I want to remind the Government that this bill is supported by the people of Malaita and it must be passed before the term of the current parliament ends this year,” Mr Oeta said.
Malaita Wowen’s Desk Officer, Clera Rikimani said women in Malaita welcomed the bill and hoped that it will address issues affecting women, which were obvious during the tension period.
“Many women from Malaita have suffered the negative effects of the crisis which are still painful to us today and we called on the Government to seriously take the bill to Parliament,” she urged.
The consultation process which was earlier held in Guadalcanal, Choiseul and Western Provinces was the first step in the drafting process which was coordinated by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (MNURP) with support from the United Nations Peace Building Fund project implemented by the UNDP and the UN Women project.
A second round of consultations around the country will be held as soon as the draft bill is formulated for further discussions.