Communities protest against plans for bauxite mine on Santa Cruz Island

Peaceful Assembly

Protests were held at the end of December 2017 against talks in Lata, Temotu province in Solomon Islands over establishing a bauxite mining operation on Santa Cruz Island. An official from Pacific Bauxite Mining organised the meetings with land owners and provincial leaders but because of the protests, decided to turn back at the airport and return to the capital, Honiara. Alistair Lemoba, one of the leaders of the anti-mining group, said that:

“We have all the rights to do this. Its our rights to protect our resources and environment…Its only a peaceful demonstration where our people express their disagreement on the proposed bauxite mining operation on Santa Cruz Island”.

There have been longstanding protests against the mine and Pacific Bauxite Mining, an Australian-owned company. According to reports, the company had "coerced, bullied and tricked communities into signing over prospecting rights to their land". Some landowners were reportedly not told about the environmental impact of mining, and others claimed they were coerced into signing blank pieces of paper, or allegedly had their signatures forged. The community is trying to raise funds to employ a lawyer who could challenge the legality of Pacific Bauxite's prospecting license.

At the national level, civil society-organised protests in September 2017 led to renewed consideration of the Anti-Corruption Bill in the Solomon Islands parliament in November 2017. Civil society groups in the country rallied in support of the law after the former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had withdrawn the bill in August. The legislation includes proposals for the establishment of an independent commission against corruption

The new Prime Minister Rick Hou says he is committed to passing the law which is currently before parliament. Civil society is monitoring the legislative process and serving as a watchdog over any potential amendments or changes that may be made to the bill's provisions.