Chapter II of the 1978 Constitution of the Solomon Islands (as amended) addresses the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. Section 3 of Chapter II declares that
every person in Solomon Islands is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:- ... (a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;
It is further stipulated in Section 4 on the right to life that
A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section if he dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justifiable-
(a) for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny;
(d) in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence,
or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war.
It is not lawful under international law for the police to use firearms purely to protect property.
Section 6 of Chapter II outlaws torture and other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Constitution also governs the Police Force of the Solomon Islands. Section 43 of Chapter V stipulates that the Police Force shall be under the command of the Commissioner of Police, who is responsible for the "use and operational control" of the Force.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Not party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||Not party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||N/A|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||N/A|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Signatory|
There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism.
Police Use of Force
Use of force by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is governed by the 2013 Police Act. Section 4 stipulates that the Act is based on a number of principles, including "preserving the human rights of individuals".
Under Section 54, a police officer may take steps that he or she believes, on reasonable grounds, are necessary to suppress a riot. Section 68(1) provides that a police officer may use "reasonable and proportionate force" in the exercise of his or her duties.
Section 68(2), which is not consistent with the Constitutional provisions described above, stipulates that potentially lethal force or force which is likely to cause grievous bodily harm may only be used where necessary to prevent death or serious injury.
There is no independent civilian oversight body for police use of force in the Solomon Islands.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Bodies
The Solomon Islands is not a state party to either the ICCPR or to CAT. In the last Universal Periodic Review of the Solomon Islands under the Human Rights Council, states welcomed the adoption of the 2013 Police Act.
There is no regional human rights mechanism addressing police use of force in the Solomon Islands.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is equipped with both lethal and less-lethal weapons, although not every officer carries a firearm. An ongoing programme of assistance from Australia includes support for provincial police commanders to promote appropriate responses by the police "particularly with the use of force". Australia also led a regional support package that addressed the arming of certain officers with firearms. The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) programme ended in 2017.