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WEDNESDAY 4 MAY 2016

Parliament is specially adjourned on Tuesday the 3rd of May 2016 to Tuesday the 17th of May 2016.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare moved a motion of special adjournment for the following reasons:

  1. All of next week the Prime Minister and Delegation will leave for Vanuatu to present the country’s bid for the 2023 South Pacific Games and
  2. In the remaining days to next week, Government would like to make clarifications on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Parliament to look at when Parliament resumes.

So far Parliament has passed 3 Bills. The Land Titles ( Amendment) Bill 2016, The Valuers ( Amendment ) Bill 2016, the Police and Transport Legislation ( Amendment )(Alcohol Testing) Bill 2016 and the Penal Code( Amendment)( Sexual Offences) Bill 2016.

The only two Bills remaining to deal with are the Anti Corruption Bill 2016 and the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2016.

These two Bills are delayed in Parliament due to pressure mounted on Government from members of Parliament not to support the Bills.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in a statement to clarify Government’s position on the two Bills said:

“Pressure is been mounted on our members of this side of the house – for us not to support these two Bills. Not only that, it gets more serious when there is intention to actually pull the government down because of these 2 Bills.”

However, he assured that Government is still committed to this policy eventually.

“But we feel that more work needs to be done, not necessarily on the content of the Bill, but, it’s on the understanding of this Bill and what it intends to do not only by Members of Parliament but also by Members of the public,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the Bills will be delayed and will remain in Parliament because it is already been submitted to Parliament.

WEDNESDAY 4TH MAY 2016

Parliament has passed the Penal Code (Amendment) (Sexual Offences) Bill 2016 on Tuesday the 3rd of may 2016.

The Bill amended the Penal Code in relation to Sexual Offences to provide greater protection against sexual violence and exploitation.
It updated the current offences in the penal Code by providing clear definitions and capturing a greater range of criminal acts of a sexual nature.
It also increased the penalties for serious offences, particularly those involving young children.
The provisions are gender neutral and apply equally to acts committed by men and women.
The updated offences are:

  • Rape
  • Attempted Rape
  • Incest
  • Indecent assault
  • Indecent Act
  • Sexual intercourse with a child
  • Procuration

The Bill also introduced the following new offences:

  • Sexual intercourse with a person with disability
  • Sexual intercourse by a person in a position of trust
  • Commercial child sexual exploitation
  • Child exploitation material and
  • Internal people trafficking

The Bill is passed with no amendments.

TUESDAY 3RD MAY 2016

Parliament has passed the ‘Police and Transport Legislation (Amendment) (Alcohol Testing) Bill 2016’, on Monday the 2nd of May 2016.

The Bill was an Act to amend the Police Act 2013, the Civil Aviation Act 2008, the Road Transport Act (CAP.131) and the Shipping Act 1998 to provide for testing for blood alcohol content and related offences.

The Act allows police officers to stop drivers and require them to undergo a breath test using a prescribed device.

It creates offences for persons who drive or operate vehicles, vessels and aircraft with blood alcohol level of 50 milligrams or more per 100 millilitres of blood.

The Act amend section 179 of the Police Act 2013 by increasing the penalty for failing to provide a forensic sample from 5000 penalty points to 10,000 penalty points.

Section 179 of the Police Act 2013 is: Any person who -

a)Refuses to undergo a forensic procedure when lawfully obliged to do so under the provisions of this Act;

b)Knowingly provides a false sample, a contaminated sample or a sample obtained from another person or thing;

or

c)Obstructs, resists, hinders, use violence against, threatens or intimidates a person in connection with the carrying out of forensic procedures,

Commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a penalty of 5000 penalty units or six months imprisonment or both.

FRIDAY 29TH APRIL 2016

Parliament has passed the Valuers ( Amendment) Bill 2016 on Thursday the 28th of April 2016.

The Bill was an Act to amend the Valuers Act 2009.
It amended clause 4 to clause 17 by making amendments to meet the major objectives of this Bill, which is to:

a) Reform the membership of the Valuers Board,
b) Limit registration of Valuers to only Solomon Islands citizens,
c) Impose additional qualification requirements for temporary registration of valuers,
d) Widen the scope for applicants to appeal decisions (or failure to make decisions), and
e) Improve the functioning of the Valuers Board.

The Valuers Act was enacted in 2009, to provide a statutory framework for the registration and licensing of valuers in Solomon Islands.

This was the first time in Solomon Islands that this profession was legally regulated.

FRIDAY 29TH APRIL 2016

Parliament has passed the Land Titles (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Wednesday the 27th of April 2016.

The Land Titles Bill was to amend the Land and Titles Act (Cap.133) to provide a right to resume certain fixed term estates.

It sought to amend the Land Titles Act (cap.133) by inserting a new section to allow the Land Board to resume for public purposes all or part of a fixed – term estate automatically created under section 100 of the Act, by:

  1. Giving the owner of the fixed – term estate six months written notice of the resumption; and
  2. Paying the fixed-term estate owner reasonable compensation for the resumption, in consideration of the condition of the land, the value of any improvements to the land, and the remaining period of the fixed – term.

The Act will become Law and be effective after it is being gazette.

MONDAY 25 APRIL 2016

The Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) has concluded hearing on the New Bills on Saturday 23rd April 2016 while Parliament is again specially adjourned to give time for government to settle certain national issues for the smooth operation of Parliament.

The Anti corruption Bill and the Whistle Blowers Bill were the last to be heard.

This means some Bills are now deem to go for the 2nd reading, committee stage and third reading in Parliament next week.

Meanwhile, Parliament is again specially adjourned today, Monday 25th April 2016 to Wednesday 27th April 2016.

Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare in moving the motion of special adjournment thanked the Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee for the progress of the Bills Hearing.

In his comments he explained that Parliament needs to adjourn to give time for other Bill reports to be prepared to be tabled and moved to second reading and the committee stage.

However, the other important matter for this special adjournment is: government needs to sit down and settle certain national issues that are affecting the smooth operation of Parliament.

“I believe there are certain national issues that affect the smooth and executive operation of this Parliament; that I believe the fifty members of Parliament, especially the government side need to sit down and look at before we continue with this meeting, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare explained.

Parliament will resume on Wednesday the 27th of April 2016.

MONDAY 18TH APRIL 2016

US meets Speaker
US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray (center), Speaker of Solomon Islands Parliament(right) and US Consular in Honiara, Keithie Saunders (left) during the courtesy call.

US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray who was recently confirmed as next Ambassador to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Republic of Vanuatu has made a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands on Friday 15th of April 2016

This was part of her visit to present her credentials to the Government of Solomon Islands.

The Ambassador was accompanied by Protocol Assistant, Miss Michelle Gerari of the Embassy of the United States of America in Port Moresby.

During the visit, she first met the Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Milner Tozaka.

Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Mr Ajilon. Jasper Nasiu when welcoming the Ambassador said, “We are forever grateful for the gift of this Parliament House from the US Government to the people of Solomon Islands, and only wish that the US Government could continue to do some more assistance on the same line.”

He said Solomon Island is a small Island state that is also going through so many difficulties like other small Island states.

However, Solomon Islands Parliament like any other Parliament is trying to fulfill its vision of achieving a Modern Parliament that fulfills its constitutional duties and effectively serves the people of Solomon Islands.

One of the areas the Speaker highlighted in its restructuring is Administrative autonomy. Another is the possibility of a new Electoral system to be used in the next General Elections, similar to the one Fiji is using.

He also highlighted the Civic Education and outreach programs which includes the gender programs run by the Young Women Parliamentary Group (YWPG).

The US Ambassador said she was impressed to see that Solomon Islands is seriously focusing on woman and violence which now sees the enforcement of the Family Protection Law.

She, however, said the USA has shifted its focus to human capacity building, especially in the areas of health, women, economic growth and climate change and adaptation.

But she has concern on the current issues that surrounds logging in the country and the current issue with Honiara’s Sea Port.

She said issues affecting Sea Ports are of great concern to any country because we all depend on a Port for living.

She continued to comment on the political groupings in Parliament and had expressed her interest in seeing a strong opposition and independent groups.

However, she said it’s a shame YWPG is doing great in terms of empowering young women for leadership positions but is not reflected in the representation in Parliament.

“Leadership and contributions of YWPG are admired but where they are in Parliament?” she asked.

The US Ambassador also asked about the proposed reserve seats for women in Parliament and has quoted Hillary Clinton on her saying that, “Women are the largest reservoir of talents,” therefore they must be considered when electing leaders into Parliament.

The Ambassador was greeted by the Speaker with a gift of shell money necklace.

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