Enduring Tensions: Transitional Justice in the Solomon Islands
From 1998 to 2003, the Solomon Islands found itself in the grip of 'the Tensions', a violent civil conflict that left some 200 people dead, more than 20,000 displaced, and countless others subjected to torture, rape, fear and intimidation. In the aftermath of the conflict, two dominant approaches to post-conflict justice emerged. The first, implemented by the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), favoured a 'rule of law' approach according to which large numbers of militants on both sides were arrested and processed through the criminal justice system resulting, in many cases, in the imposition of lengthy period of imprisonment. The second, 'reconciliation' approach, favoured local, grassroots, traditional and indigenous justice processes and were routinely implements by community groups, women's organisations and the churches. This article demonstrates that in the absence of a formally planned transitional justice process, these two approaches to post-conflict justice have come into serious tension with proponents of each accusing the other of hampering their justice efforts. It examines those tensions and analyses the extent to which the Solomon Islands' Truth and Reconciliation Commission, designed in part to provide a bridge between the rule of law and reconciliation approaches, has been able to quell this new set of tensions.
Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific