SI - Courts now ‘essential service’

SI - Courts now ‘essential service’

Posted by : Frank Short Posted on : 24-Feb-2022

24 February 2022

The Government has now recognised the Courts as an “essential service”.

And President of the Solomon Islands Bar Association (SIBA) Eran Soma acknowledges the government for this.

He said since the simulated lockdown in August 2021 courts have been given recognition and the government must be commended in that regard.

He said that ordinary citizens, people of business, victims or accused, all people have a fundamental right to access the Courts at the earliest time despite COVID-19 restrictions to ask for and receive justice according to law.

 “I am aware that court services and processes are changing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Specific measures are in place at courts and tribunals to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19,” Soma said.

He also highlighted that Courts cannot function without lawyers, and for completeness, SIBA would like to see legal service must also be considered essential service throughout all COVID-19 restrictions, as in more developed countries.

He said Honiara Emergency Zone had already experienced a number of lockdowns and partial lockdown orders due to the recent community outbreak of COVID-19.

“I would like to see the government, the Chief Justice, all lawyers and public to ensure that all our Courts remain open, protected and freely accessible to anyone regardless of race, colour, creed or political views, but may operate differently under an acceptable protocol or standard operating procedure,” Soma added.

Source. Island Sun newspsaper.


I guess the question that needs to be raised following this announcement is will the courts, including the High Court, receive the funding from the government to ensure their function, staffing and independence from the executive?

It was always my experience when in the Solomon Islands at the official opening of every legal year that the Chief Justice called on the government of the day to ensure enough funds for the full functioning of all courts.

If I am not mistaken the same plea for funding for the courts is repeated year on year and has been the case since 1998 the last time I attended the High Court on the commencement of the then legal year.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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