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UPR: Solomon Islands, 24th Session, 2015

United Nations Human Rights Council

Universal Periodic Review: Solomon Islands

Executive Summary 

Drawing on ICAAD’s research, this submission highlights issues of structural discrimination that impact women and minorities in the Solomon Islands. The research examines the Solomon Island’s compliance with its international human rights obligations on the issues of: violence against women and girls (VAWG), gender equality and discrimination against persons with disabilities.

  • Violence Against Women
  1. Systematic Discrimination:

(1) Violence against women and girls is endemic in the Solomon Islands. Domestic violence is largely underreported.[i] Women fail to report due to fear of reprisals, feelings of shame, and cultural taboos.[ii] A 2012 report by the Special Rapporteur on VAWG indicated that approximately 64% of women who had been in a relationship experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner.[iii] 37% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 reported being the victims of sexual abuse under the age of 15.[iv] Spousal rape is not criminalized.[v]

(2) In terms of the broader social context, women continue to live with the effects of a period of internal unrest between 1998 and 2003 known as “the tensions.”[vi] Rape was frequently used by militants and policemen to extract information from women and girls about the whereabouts of family or community members.[vii] It is reported that up to 75 percent of women suffered personal trauma, including rape.[viii]

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On May 17, 2019, ICAAD Advisor Erin Thomas’ publication: Compacts of Free Association in FSM, RMI, and Palau: Implications for the 2023-2024 Renewal Negotiations (hrbrief.org/2019/03/compacts-of-free-association-in-fsm-rmi-and-palau-implications-for-the-2023-2...) was cited by the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr., in an op-ed published in The Hill (thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/444291-pacific-defense-pact-renewal-vital-to-the-u...). In her piece, Erin points to critical issues stakeholders have raised regarding human trafficking, adoption policies, and COFA migrant rights among other important human rights issues.

Some of the above-mentioned policy gaps span several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly 10 (reduced inequalities) and 17 (partnership for the goals). Holistically, the existing COFA agreements represent the type of inequity that SDG 10 seeks to address. SDG 17 promotes inclusive and participatory decision-making at the international, national, and local levels. Developing transparency on both sides will allow for a more equitable process and outcome for the renewal negotiations.

The issues within the existing agreements also involve SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) and limited access to justice regarding redress for nuclear testing and environmental destruction. This impacts targets and indicators including SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Finally, SDG 10 and 8’s targets for responsible migration policies are important considering the limited provisions for COFA migrants in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
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