Alternative Pursuits

As Jeffery, among others, points out, corrupted customary practices were carried out against the backdrop of a number of different ‘justice’ tracks (Jeffery 2014). In addition to the Amnesty Acts passed in 2000 and 2001 (discussed in Chapter 5) a number of rule of law programs were instituted, which led to a series of arrests and the high-profile ‘Tensions Trials,’ and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2009.

Yet even as formal, top-down processes like trials and the TRC were being carried out, customary and restorative justice practices did take place. At the same time, for example, a number of restorative justice programs were being held in the prisons, by groups including Prison Fellowship International, and outside the prisons by the Sycamore Tree Program (PF Solomon Islands). Many other bottom-up reconciliations were led by women (Braithwaite et al. 2010: 82-83). ‘The economic conditions created by the conflict made women realize they must take action in the public sphere; they promoted non-violent methods of peacebuilding: dialogue, listening, prayer, counselling and sharing food... Their efforts are widely acknowledged as important’ (Peters 2011: 83-84). Women, themselves, led initiatives including the National Council of Women and Women for Peace (Peters 2011: 83).

By 2014, however, the activities of the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace had largely been hamstrung by a lack of resources allocated to it, and by the failure of the Prime Minister to table the TRC report, which eventually happened in secret immediately prior to the dissolution of Parliament in September 2014 (Brown 2015). ‘SIG priorities for 2014 did not include reconciliation’ (Anonymous interview 2014). As the MNURP Permanent Secretary explained to me, its mandate is to implement the recommendations for the TRC. Since the TRC Report had never been presented to Parliament, however, the Ministry was technically still waiting for the go-ahead to carry out activities. The PS went to the Attorney General to ask if the MNURP could begin to enact its mandate, since the report was already in the public domain, but MNURP was told that it must wait (Rukale interview 2014). To add insult to injury, in the 2014 five-year budget process, the skeleton budget request that the Ministry had submitted was cut by half, from $30 million SBD over five years to $15,000,000 SBD. This meant that the Ministry would likely not be able to carry out the programming even if it had permission to carry out its mandate. It also meant that there would likely be deep cuts to the 17 people working on policy and program implementation, unless the Ministry became a target for donor funding (Rukale interview 2014).

 
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