The Sogavare Government is already working to demolish the rule of law in Solomon Islands, Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) warns in a statement released today.
The TSI statement refers to a series of actions by the Government carried out both in secret and in public which the local anti-corruption body says is already seriously threatening the independence of Solomon Islands legal system.
The most blatant and shocking example of this is the unpublicised decision by the acting Attorney General, Nuatali Tongarutu, last month to drop serious charges against the Minister for Commerce, Industries and Employment, Peter Shanel and her own brother, Pastor Joseph Douglas Alamu who is understood to be a senior officer-holder in the Prime Minister’s So-Cred Party.
“Done behind closed doors, apparently to serve personal and political interests ahead of the nation’s, this is a clear abuse of office and goes against all principles of rule by law," the Board of TSI says in its strongly worded statement.
TSI has confirmed that the acting AG dropped the charges against both men by invoking a provision in the constitution that provides for the AG to act as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the DPP’s absence.
Last month the acting AG decided to become also acting DPP.
“In fact the DDP was still in the country at the time but Mrs Tongarutu could not wait to move in and mis-use the legal powers of the office of the DPP to drop charges against both the minister and her brother.”
“This is a direct assault on the independence of the office of the DPP and represents serious interference in the nation’s judicial and legal system,” the TSI board says.
It is understood that the action was so serious, the acting AG’s action is now being treated by our legal authorities as a case of alleged misconduct.
Charges in both cases were serious and TSI would like to congratulate the DPP, Ronald Bei Talasasa for his courageous stance in re-laying the charges against Minister Shanel.
“It is only through actions of such integrity that we can hope to protect our legal system,” the TSI statement said.
In the light of this, the Prime Minister’s attack and veiled threats last week against the DPP in relation to his comments regarding the alleged assassination plot case, is extremely worrying.
TSI would like to know what the Prime Minister means when he said in an official press statement last week that “the Government will not rest until we establish the motives and reasons behind why the DPP dared to make such a public statement.”
The DPP was, in fact, doing his duty, warning against interference and attempted manipulation of our legal system. This is not only appropriate but it is the clear responsibility of the DPP to protect the independence and integrity of his office.
TSI would like to remind the Prime Minister of the strong support by the people of this nation for the rule of law free from threat and intimidation.
“We respectfully ask the Prime Minister to maintain and respect the separation of powers between the law makers and the law enforcers that are so fundamental to the proper functioning of a free and fair society,” TSI said.
Other examples of recent undermining of our legal system and due processes under this government include:
- The effective sacking of the Police Commissioner by declaring him an undesirable immigrant instead of following the procedures laid down in the constitution
- The unauthorised landing of a PNGDF plane carrying the government’s candidate for AG, Julian Moti into the country
- The government’s refusal to co-operate with the PNG Defence Force Inquiry into this incident
- The government’s failure to carry out wide consultation with the people of Solomon Islands regarding its policy to re-arm the police
Under these circumstances it is all the more worrying that the Government plans to bring back guns at this time the TSI statement said.
“This all adds up to a very bad scenario for the rule of law in our beloved Solomon Islands.”
For any press enquiries please contact
Joses Tuhanuku, Executive Officer
Bob Pollard, Chairman