On November 11, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a workshop on human trafficking in the Solomon Islands. A total of 50 people, including representatives from 18 local organizations and from the ministries of women and family affairs, foreign affairs, health, commerce, and law and justice, attended the event. Speakers from Papua New Guinea’s Department of Justice and Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council led comparative discussions.
The workshop was meant to clarify the definition of human trafficking, to identify stakeholders, to examine local case studies and to consider regional anti-human trafficking efforts. Articulating national anti-human trafficking commitments, the event commences a coordinated, inter-agency plan to combat the problem.
The workshop, which also featured interactive presentations by local professionals, stressed the importance of local expertise in combating human trafficking. The event also discussed how some industries, such as mining, logging and fishing, as well as some customary practices, such as bride price, child marriage and adoptions through extended family networks, can play a role in human trafficking.
Trevor Unusu from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who reminded participants that the Solomon Islands is a member of the Bali Process, a grouping of countries to enhance anti-human trafficking coordination in the Asia-Pacific region, said, “The Solomon Islands, like many other small island states, has always regarded itself as too small for such trafficking atrocities [to occur].” He added that the “establishment of an anti-human trafficking law is a must” for the country to demonstrate its commitment to combating the phenomenon.
The meeting provided a launching point for the country to start a broad conversation focused on sustainable ways to address the matter. ABA ROLI’s program in the Solomon Islands—our first in the Pacific—will help improve the legal framework and build local capacity to combat human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking is supporting the program.
To learn more about our work in the Solomon Islands, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.