29 Apr 2009

Commission formally launched in Solomon Islands

9:34 pm on 29 April 2009

The United Nations says a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Solomon Islands will give redress to victims of ethnic unrest whose cases have not been heard by the courts.

The violence between 1998 and 2003 left 100 people dead and 20,000 people displaced.

Former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa launched the commission on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch at the National Football Stadium in Honiara, he talked of the importance of forgiveness to ensure there is sustainable peace, a message to which the crowd reaction with solemn reflection.

Several thousand Solomon Islanders, among them many school and church groups, turned out to witness the launch.

Christina Carlson from the UN development programme says serious crime related to the unrest has been prosecuted, but she hopes that lower-level cases of violence, theft and sexual assault, which would overwhelm the courts, can be brought to the commission.