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Tackling violence against women and girls

Graphic: Participants at the APF training course on national inquiries, Samoa

The APF is providing practical training and support for NHRIs in the region to undertake national inquiries into gender-based violence.


Following its national consultations in 2015, one of the most pressing issues identified by Samoa's national human rights institution was the critical need to counter violence against women and girls.

It has become a key focus of the Ombudsman's work and was the subject of a recent APF training program on national inquiries for staff of the Ombudsman's office.

APF Expert NHRI Consultant Chris Sidoti led the week-long program, held in Apia from 25-29 July 2016.

The workshop featured expert input from 'Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, Director of Tonga's Women and Children Crisis Centre, who shared her experiences in advocating for the rights of women and children at the domestic and regional levels, and Mele Maualaivao, UN Women's Country Programme Coordinator in Samoa.

Representatives from the Samoan Law Reform Commission also took part in the workshop and shared their experiences of conducting inquiries.


We are very excited to explore this function of our human rights work and focus on the prominent issues in our society that are infringing on the rights of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Ombudsman of Samoa Logo Maiava Iulai Toma, Ombudsman of Samoa

Graphic: Partipants at the APF workshop on national inquiries, Samoa

The workshop provided participants with a step-by-step understanding of the process to establish and conduct an effective national inquiry, including:

  • Selecting the inquiry subject and setting the terms of reference
  • Collecting evidence and holding public hearings
  • Engaging the media and building community awareness
  • Developing recommendations and writing the inquiry report
  • Promoting inquiry findings and advocate for recommendations.

From 29-31 August 2016, the APF will provide training on conducting national inquiries for the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, which is set to run an inquiry on gender-based violence in one province of the country.

The APF has also provided seed funding for this inquiry, as a follow up to our inaugural training program on the human rights of women and girls in 2015.

"Across the Asia Pacific region, we've seen that national inquiries are a powerful tool for investigating systemic human rights violations, educating the broader community and providing concrete recommendations to government to improve the situation for vulnerable groups," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

"In the past 12 months, for example, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights has published a national inquiry report on access to reproductive heath services and the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights has inquired into the land rights of indigenous peoples."

Date: 16 August 2016


National consultations on human rights in Samoa

The APF has produced a training manual and a video series on conducting effective national inquiries, featuring case studies from many of our member institutions.


Image credits

  1. Participants at the APF training course on national inquiries, Samoa - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  2. Partipants at the APF workshop on national inquiries, Samoa - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  3. National consultations on human rights in Samoa - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa