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Human Rights in Solomon Islands

Amnesty International Report 2009

Head of state Queen Elizabeth II, represented by: Nathaniel Waena
Head of government: Derek Sikua
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 507,000
Life expectancy: 63 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 72/71 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 76.6 per cent

The growth of informal settlements in Honiara and surrounding areas reflects growing urban poverty. A lack of affordable housing options in the city, insufficient housing legislation, poor government planning and the failure to provide infrastructure has led to inadequate access to water, sanitation and health services for thousands of people living in informal settlements. Violence against women and girls remains prevalent.

Housing rights

There has been a rapid growth of informal settlements in Honiara, the capital, and the surrounding areas over the last 10 years. This is mainly due to increased rural to urban migration, poor town planning, including the absence of regulations preventing unsafe building, and a lack of legislation providing for security of tenure.

The government failed to provide adequate health care, clean water, sanitation and education to those living in the informal settlements, resulting in thousands of people without access to basic services. The government also failed to provide new low-cost housing in Honiara to alleviate overcrowding and address the lack of secure tenure.

In August, Honiara City Council acknowledged that the rise in informal settlements and the resultant overcrowding was a major cause of serious sanitation and health problems such as diarrhoea, dysentery and hook worm, which became further exacerbated by the lack of access to health services for those in many of the settlements.

Violence against women and girls

Reports of violence against women continued to rise. Seventy per cent of violence against women was committed by the woman's partner, one of the highest rates of partner violence in the world, according to preliminary findings of a government-sponsored study carried out by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, a regional intergovernmental organization.

In November, responding to the study, Prime Minister Derek Sikua committed the government to do all it could to effectively address gender-based violence. However, at the end of the year, no detailed plans on how the government planned to do this had been made public.

Death penalty

In December, despite being abolitionist for all crimes and guaranteeing the right to life in the Constitution, the Solomon Islands voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

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