Gov’t to receive law reform report on Mental Impairment, Criminal Responsibility and Fitness to Plead
The Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission (LRC) will hand over its report for reform of the law and procedure contained in the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code that apply to people with mental health problems who committed crimes and come into contact with the criminal justice system.
This report will be handed over to the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon Commins Mewa, on Wednesday 9th October 2013. This Report contains 25 recommendations for reform of the applicable law and procedure contained in the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code.
LRC Commissioner Gabriel Suri says “This is the third report on the review of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code that the LRC has handed to the Minister. The first report, containing recommendations for reform of corruption offences in the Penal Code, was handed over to the Minister in 2011. The second report contains a comprehensive set of recommendations for reform of sexual offences in the Penal Code including rape and defilement as well as for the introduction of new offences to protect children from sexual abuse. This third Report contains recommendations to reform the law and procedure that apply to people with mental health problems who commit crimes, arrested by the police and are brought before the courts. ”
The underlying principles used to formulate the recommendations for reform of the law and procedure that apply to people with mental health problems include -
To ensure that the balance between the interests of people with a mental impairment and those who cannot plead or stand trial and the interests and the safety of the public is maintained;
To ensure that the constitutional protections afforded to people with a mental impairment charged with a criminal offence are not violated;
To ensure that all people are treated equally before the law;
To eliminate discrimination on the basis of a disability; and
To meet the obligations of Solomon Islands under United Nations conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Law Reform Commission commenced this review on this part of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code Reference in 2009. A Consultation Paper was released in 2011, and the Law Reform Commission carried out targeted consultations with key stakeholders in Honiara afterwards. In the course of developing recommendations for reform the Commission considered the Constitution, international obligations of Solomon Islands, and consideration on how other countries developed their laws to address defects associated with the law and procedure applicable to people with mental health problems who come into contact with their criminal justice systems.
The LRC will hand-over the report to the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs at the National Mental Health Conference organized by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. This two-day conference takes place at the Forum Fisheries Agency conference room commencing on 8th October.
Commissioner Suri “urges the Government to implement the recommendations contained in the report to improve the applicable sections in the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code that apply to people with mental health problems, and build proper mental health institutions within the country where people with mental impairment can be kept, treated and supervised”.