Solomons PM Takes Tough Stand Against Sexual Harassment

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Zero tolerance policy touted by Sogavare, after claim against staff

By Biriau Wilson Saeni

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 29, 2016) – Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says he is taking a tough stand against any forms of sexual harassment occurring within any top government office including his.

Mr Sogavare made the strong warning yesterday following an article in the Sunday Star alleging his office is being rocked by sexual harassment claims involving his recently appointed Special Secretary to the Prime Minister (SSPM), Andrew Muaki.

The PM said he will not tolerate any forms of sexual harassment within his office or in any other government departments for that matter.

"I will not tolerate any forms of sexual harassment within my office or in any other government departments.

"There is zero tolerance towards such conduct and once the facts have been substantiated, immediate action will be taken to address the situation," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Sogavare said that investigations into the claims are ongoing and as soon as details are forthcoming, those involved will face the consequences of their actions.

This paper understands that a prominent female political appointee in the PM’s office claimed she has been sexually harassed time and again by the recently appointed Special Secretary to the Prime Minister (SSPM), Andrew Muaki.

The female alleged in a letter she wrote to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare dated 29 January 2016.

This came just two months after Muaki was given the SPPM job.

She said since her official functions come under the PM’s Private Office, which is headed by the SSPM, she found it very awkward to work with Mr. Muaki.

Two other female officers within the PMO also complained of the same behavior towards them by the SSPM, the woman claimed in her letter.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that any such misconduct is unacceptable and the individuals concerned will be suspended from their duties with immediate effect.

He said this is to avoid staff discord until facts surrounding the allegations can be established.

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