‘Section 47 of Health Bill needs further scrutiny’


THE Chief Education Officer of Western Province has called on the government to further scrutinise section 47 of the Public Health Emergency Bill.

Section 47 (1 and 2) of the Bill provides administrative penalties by way of forfeiting property and payment of costs.

Commenting during the inquiry hearing on the bill last week, Mr Hopeful Piosasa said Section [47] needs to be expanded to look at the seriousness of nuisance or offences against the particular section and relevant penalties that are applicable.

He said general interpretation of the clues carry more complication in practical sense as forfeiting of properties satisfies the law but causing hardship to citizens.

“We need to expand the clues based on a more practical way – penalties must value the offence. Forfeiting citizen’s properties is taking away properties from citizen’s hard earning and lives.

“For example, if a person deliberately not wearing a mask, the government should penalise the person based on the seriousness of the offence.

“But, if there is a building or property that continuously creating situation that breached the public emergency law, or situation where can affect the health of the people, then the provision should apply,” Piosasa said.

He said the bill is established to deal with emergency situations, and offences will not only be committed by Solomon Islanders but also by foreigners.

Piosasa suggests that the penalties should have equal emphasis on both locals and foreigners as the only way for the virus to enter the country is from the outside.

He said foreign threat is more serious than domestic threats as such strong warning should be enforced on foreigners or foreign vessels.

“It could be a fishing boat illegally fish within our EEZ or it could be somebody coming in illegally.

“There has be some kind of expansion on this clue to accommodate such scenarios.

“Like for example, if a foreign vessel illegally enter Solomon Islands, the government may forfeit the ship.

“But if this clue is only applicable to Solomon Islanders, rightly and logically we need to look at the seriousness of the offence before jumping into applying the provision – meaning relevant penalties should apply,” Piosasa said.

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