27 February 2019
Solomon Islands: A promise to be honoured - Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Solomon Islands is currently in the grip of election fever as contenders to become Members of Parliament prepare for the upcoming general election in April.
Amongst the contenders are four previous Prime Ministers and three, to my knowledge, that previously told the country that their administrations would ratify the UN Convention on Disabilities but, unless I am wrong, did not do so for whatever reason.
Former Prime Minister, Dr Derek Sikua signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006 and signed by Dr Sikua in 2007 and the signing ceremony witnessed by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Relations, William Haomae and by Mr Laurie Chan.
Once the Convention was signed there was the obligation placed on the Solomon Islands Government to honour the Convention through enacting appropriate legislation and administrative arrangements to ensure both private and public sectors respect the rights of people with disabilities, thus ensuring that persons with disabilities in the Solomon Islands enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others.
Last July the current Caretaker Prime Minister, Rick Hou, when addressing the Deaf Association in Honiara said the Solomon Islands “will” ratify the Convention.
On that occasion Mr Hou said supporting people with special needs was everyone’s business.
He went on to say that schools and institutions around the country should consider introducing sign language in their curricula and training.
Mr Hou the association representatives at the meeting, Solomon Islands would ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as “soon as the relevant documentation was finalized.”
On the occasion of that meeting, the President of the Solomons Deaf Association, Ali Barnabas, speaking with the aid of a sign language interpreter, thanked Mr Hou for his commitment to ensuring ratification of the Convention and highlighted the struggle associations like his continued to face because of a lack of support for people with disabilities in the Solomons.
It has been 12 years since the Convention was first signed by Dr Sikua on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government and seven months since the Caretaker Prime Minister gave his assurance the Convention would be ratified by the government.
I would respectfully request the incoming administration to honour the commitment to ratify the Convention in keeping with repeated pledges to do so.
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Nelson Mandela