Introduction to Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In the period 1998 – 2003 the South Pacific nation of Solomon Islands experienced a period of social unrest related to issues that included land ownership and economic displacement (known as ‘the Tensions’). During this time, many human rights abuses took place including killings, abductions, torture, sexual violence and forced displacements, as well as destruction of and damage to personal and public property.
In 2007, a newly elected Solomon Islands government made national reconciliation a key priority, and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to shed light on past wrongdoings with the goal of promoting national unity and reconciliation. The Solomon Islands TRC was established through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2008 (TRC Act), which was passed in the national Parliament in August 2008.
The TRC is an independent statutory body mandated to examine the causes and impacts of ‘the Tensions’. In doing this, the TRC will record statements from victims and perpetrators, and conduct investigations to examine the causes of the violence and the issue of responsibility. The TRC will hold public hearings to give victims the opportunity to tell their stories and have their experiences during the Tensions acknowledged. The mandate of the TRC involves looking at the impact the Tensions had on individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole, as well as examining how the violence affected health, education, legal and other sectors. The TRC’s work, which is expected to last for two years, will culminate in a final report where findings will be presented to the government of Solomon Islands. The report will include recommendations about ongoing measures to address the legacy of violence from ‘the Tensions’ and long-term reconciliation.