Background: In recent years, much work has been undertaken to better understand needs and issues related to access to justice in the Solomon Islands. As part of work led by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MJLA), the Access to Justice in Solomon Islands Initiation Project Plan was designed to lay the foundation for future long-term support in Solomon Islands through providing insights into perceptions of justice, the factors shaping access to justice, and the costs embedded in current justice processes in Solomon Islands.
In 2019, Sustineo delivered the Access to Justice Solomon Islands Survey with the purpose of better understanding justice needs in Solomon Islands. It aimed to do this through identifying and quantifying the challenges that affect people’s access to justice services and ultimately inform programming decisions made between MJLA and UNDP.
Approach: Sustineo employed a highly consultative approach in leading the design and implementation of this mixed-methods research project. To achieve a cohesive approach, our team integrated multiple survey types and qualitative methods. The main method was the Access to Justice Survey, a nationally representative survey of 2,633 randomly identified respondents across 30 locations in Honiara and all provinces of Solomon Islands, to get a picture of the perceptions and experiences of people related to accessing justice. This was completed by Cost of Seeking Justice Surveys, which included three separate surveys targeted to Survivors of Domestic Violence (20 respondents), Customary Land Rights Holders (28) and Defendants on Remand (25) investigating the costs related to their experience with the justice sector. This was complemented by nine focus groups discussions with women, men, and people with disabilities across Honiara, Central Province, and Malaita Province, providing additional nuance to the survey-based results.
Critical to Sustineo’s approach were the proactive steps to promote social inclusion and mitigate potential ethical risks. We employed a socially inclusive approach to research design and conduct, with particular emphasis on gender, age and people with disability. This approach was crafted based on engagements with UN partners, as well as the Family Support Centre (FSC) and People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI). Given the ethical risks to respondents who have experience with justice related issues, Sustineo implemented an Ethical Risk Mitigation Strategy which included designing approaches to recruitment and engagement with FSC, PWDSI, the Public Solicitor’s Office and Correctional Services Solomon Islands. Sustineo’s approach was also approved by the Solomon Islands Health Research and Ethics Review Board (Research Project No. HRE001/19; 21 February 2019).
During the design phase, Sustineo played a lead role in the refinement of the data collection instruments to ensure they were fit for Solomon Islands context and culture. We undertook the refinement, translation and validation process in close consultation with our local team of researchers, ensuring highest relevance of questions to the stated aims of the study on access to justice. The survey was implemented in Solomon Islands Pijin by our three Solomon Island research teams, using tablet-based technology. Overall, Sustineo successfully mobilised over 30 Solomon Island research staff in implementing the project, including embedding appropriate supervision and other quality and assurance measures to ensure the collection of high-quality data from the field.
Outcome: Sustineo’s approach to project design, implementation and analysis ensured the delivery of high quality reports that were fit for purpose and aligned with the broader work of UNDP. This approach both achieved Sustineo’s stated project focus of contributing important insights into the perceptions and experiences of Solomon Islanders relating to the justice system, as well as complementing the work of other UNDP contractors. As part of this, Sustineo produced separate Technical and Summary outputs, ensuring the clear communication of the integrity and depth of findings (Technical Report), while also clearly communicating the higher-level policy and programme-oriented findings and recommendations (Summary Report). Sustineo’s use of effective data visualisation techniques resulted in easily accessible outputs for non-technical audiences. The project outputs informed the design of future UNDP programs of work related to access to justice. Sustineo’s emphasis on disability inclusion as part of the project resulted in the UNDP recruiting a full-time employee working primarily on disability issues related to accessing justice.