(1999) JLP 43: 135-144
CUSTOMARY LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOLOMON
A COMMENTARY ON REMISIO PUSI v JAMES LENI
Jennifer Corrin Care
The Constitution of Solomon Islands provides that no person shall be deprived of specified human rights and freedoms, including freedom of movement. The Constitution recognises customary law as a formal source of law and enjoins Parliament to have particular regard to it; but it also provides that, to the extent that customary law is inconsistent with the Constitution, it is not to apply.
In Remisio Pusi v James Leni and others the plaintiff applied to the High Court for an order that the decision of the respondents, members of a local chiefs committee, banning him from his village breached his constitutional rights. The court, Muria CJ, dismissed the application on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to establish that there had been a banning order. It also held that the Constitution should not be used to circumvent the lawful application of custom, as appeared to be attempted in this case. The value and implications of this and the few other cases involving conflicts between customary law and human rights provisions are considered.