BY LIONEL TAORAO, FREELANCE JOURNALIST
in Ulawa Island, Makira/Ulawa Province
THE Ulawa Island House of chiefs in the Makira Ulawa Province on Thursday 17th November commences amending the island’s customary compensation for Murder.
Addressing the Ulawa Island Malusihenue House of Chiefs, the Interim Chairman, Chief Douglas Teaitala says that it is time that Ulawa Island chiefs amend the island’s customary compensation values (fines) according to the fines imposed by the sovereign courts of the country.
“There is a big difference between Ulawa Island customary compensations where our forefathers have established and the fines imposed under the penal code of the Solomon Islands thus it is important that we amend our customary fines (Jejerenga) to have them similar to our Courts penalties so that they are balanced”, Chief Teaitala says.
He said that the customary fines established by their forefathers that they still impose today are now outdated and need to be amended.
“For instance, Ulawa Island’s customary fine imposed for murder is only 20 Ha’a Tahanga (Ulawa’s traditional set red money) which is equivalent to SBD $12,800-00 whereas according to the Law of our country, a person’s life is valued at SBD$100,000-00 ”, he adds.
“The value of 20 Ulawa traditional shell money before is hard to get and is very difficult to find unlike today where it is easy”, he says.
Chief Teaitala stressed that it is with these differences that the Ulawa Island House of Chiefs needs to make amendments to the customary fines they have to match the fines imposed by the courts of Solomon Islands.
After much debate on the Amendment of the Ulawa Island customary fine imposed for murder, the Ulawa Island House of Chiefs passed that the new customary fine to be imposed for murder to compensate for the loss of life is 156 Ha’a Tahanga (Ulawa traditional shell money) and one kawe Ha’a ( single string shell money) which values at SBD$100,000-00.
Chief Teaitala says that for the start, the House of chiefs will start amending the customary fines for killings and will continue with other minor crimes depending on finance to support them with this undertaking.
He further adds that such an undertaking is not easy as they have to get members from around the Island to get together for meetings and ration as well as other things to make such gatherings successful and he said that it is with the assistance from the Ulawa Ugi constituency office that they successfully have this meeting.
A total of thirty chiefs from each community around Ulawa Island attended the meeting which was held at Kelimei village in North Ulawa to start amending the island’s customary fines and laws.