Justice delayed is justice denied. Transparency Solomon Islands agrees. The most important question is why justice is delayed resulting in justice denied.
AN OPINION PIECE BY TRANSPARENCY SOLOMON ISLANDS (TSI)
The root cause of the delay is what needs to be addressed. If it is resources, provide them with more resources be it judges, facilities, funds, and other support costs. If it is corruption and corrupting of the system, do an assessment of what is going on and address the root cause. If it is inefficiency then let us look into what can be done. Weed out the inefficiency in the system. We cannot continue with the slogan of “Justice delayed, is justice denied”. Let us vote for leaders who can say “Yes we can provide access to justice for all” and not a few select people. The answer is in each and every one of us.
TSI continues to be dismayed by the delay of cases in court, especially the civil cases. Some according to information shared with Transparency Solomon Islands by clients are now well over 5 years and yet to be listed for mention. This is an indication of a number of challenges faced by this arm of our Government, the Judiciary, the most important of which is the control that the Executive Government has over the budget and through it undermine the roles and responsibilities of the Courts. It does the same to the Legislative Arm of our government. Successive governments continued to starve the Legislature and the Judiciary of the funds, and human resources and facilities they needed to do their work. The sad thing is millions were spent on meals for the cabinet (when Rick Nelson Houenipwela was Prime Minister), a drop in the ocean trip of our current Prime Minister to China and many more. These are the funds that could have been allocated to the judiciary to do its work. It is time to re-think the architecture and structure of our democracy, and re-engineer (the indigenization of Democracy in our context).
Transparency Solomon Islands notes the 5th of August, Solomon star Issue No.8537 article on the issue of delayed cases in court. When cases are delayed in court, justice is also delayed. The retired former judge Sir Frank Kabui in that interview spoke about the processes of filing a case in the high court. From this it is quite clear that the registrar of the high court plays a pivotal role in registering the cases filed and allocating the cases to the honorable judges. The process as simple and straightforward as it is, the questions of why the delays that are getting more and more longer still puzzles the public especially those who expect their cases to be put before the courts. Whilst this is the case for ordinary citizens of Solomon Islands, there are a few privileged people that do not have much in the way of delay with regard to their cases being heard when they requested it to be heard. Transparency Solomon Islands is also aware that there are law firms that fought for the cases of their clients to be heard, and there are those who continue to capitalize on this whilst continuing to be paid. A case raised with Transparency Solomon Islands concerns a lawyer who was paid $300,000 plus for his services and to date he has done nothing to get the case being heard by the courts. It is these kinds of operators that are likely to tarnish the law profession and those who are really providing services to their clients.
It is also often raised with Transparency Solomon Islands that the filed cases or cases heard took too long for decision to be delivered. It is disappointing that the duration for a case which people filed took too long and that they are made to wait for too long before the outcome of the decision is given. In some cases, especially in the logging sector, by the time the decision is out and in their favour their trees are gone!!
The opinion of the retired judge that 2 years is longer than what he expected based on his experience is very alarming and raises red flags with regard to corruption now entering this arm of government. This is the last arm of the government that people still have respect and trust in, and all must be done in terms of resourcing it, better pay for those who work within and tough penalties for those working within who allow the system to be corrupted.
The Judiciary thus the Courts being one of the three arms of the government under Chapter VII of the Constitution of Solomon Islands are mandated with interpreting the laws. As such all must be done to ensure all its processes, procedures, personnels are not influenced or corrupted by outsiders and for the own agenda and interests of a few privileged people.
The people in the communities look up to the judiciary as an avenue where the public look up to, to resolve their disputes or get a fair hearing. Listing the cases to be heard and making the outcomes in reasonable time is a must. They are concerned about allegations/rumours they hear that this arm of the government is also eating out of the hands of loggers. It is common knowledge that the local courts such as Chiefs Hearing and Local Court are already doing that, at the lower courts. As one citizen says, “Loggers stay out of our Judiciary especially the Higher Courts” and Transparency Solomon Islands agrees. We the people of Solomon Islands can protect our courts by reporting those who are alleged to be paying bribes to officials of the court ‘SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING, SAY NO TO CORRUPTION”.