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Solomon Islands: Truth and Reconciliation Commission to Commence Hearings

(Mar. 10, 2010) On March 5, 2010, it was reported that the first public hearings of the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission would take place beginning March 9, 2010. (First TRC Public Hearing Next Week, SOLOMON TIMES, Mar. 5, 2010, available at

The Commission was officially established by the government in April 2009. Its purpose is to promote national unity and reconciliation following the ethnic conflict that occurred in Guadalcanal between 1997 and 2003. (Solomons Poised for Reconciliation Hearings, RADIO AUSTRALIA NEWS, Mar. 8, 2010, available at During the public hearings, victims and witnesses of crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict will be able to give testimony about their experiences. (Id.) They will not be allowed to name individuals, but can identify the groups involved. (SOLOMON TIMES, supra.)

The conflict involved rival militia groups, with settlers from another island, Malaita, clashing with the indigenous residents of Guadalcanal. The fighting over jobs, land rights, and political power led to 100 deaths and the displacement of about 20,000 people. The violence was ended by the establishment of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which was invited into the country by the Solomon Islands government in 2003. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Solomon Islands, RADIO AUSTRALIA NEWS, Apr. 29, 2009, available at RAMSI still operates in the Solomon Islands, assisting with law and order and the strengthening of government institutions; police, military, and civilian personnel from around the Pacific region participate. (RAMSI website, (last visited Mar. 8, 2010).)

The Commission is the first of its kind in the Pacific region. It has been modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, and the chair of that Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has taken an active role in its establishment. (Rowan Callick, Solomon Islands Gets Desmond Tutu Truth Help, THE AUSTRALIAN, Apr. 29, 2009, available at
.) The Commission has five members – including three citizens of the Solomon Islands, a member from Peru, and one from Fiji. (PM Sikua Announces TRC Team, SOLOMON TIMES, Apr. 27, 2009, available at