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Kiribati consultations give backing for local NHRI

Graphic: Community consultation with mayors, elders and other representatives from the two Line Islands

Senior political, civil society and local leaders have expressed their support for an NHRI in Kiribati, following broad community consultations.

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Senior political, civil society and community leaders in Kiriabti have expressed their support for the establishment of a national human rights institution (NHRI), following a wide-ranging consultation process involving people from across the Pacific Island nation.

Consultations were held in Tarawa and Kiritimati-Christmas Island in September and October 2019, following a government invitation for the APF, the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to conduct a scoping visit.


Children play on a beach in Tarawa

The Republic of Kiribati, in the central Pacific Ocean, is home to around 110,000 people, more than half of whom live in the capital, Tarawa. The country comprises 32 atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba, spread over 3.5 million square kilometres.

Kiribati will take part in its third Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in January 2020.


"This was the most thorough and comprehensive set of consultations in the Pacific yet," APF Special Envoy Rosslyn Noonan said.

"It was so important that community leaders and others from the outer islands were able to join the discussions and share their thoughts," she said.

The consultations addressed the role and function of NHRIs, the different 'models' of NHRIs that exist and which options would be best suited to the country.

Ms Noonan said many of the conversations also discussed human rights more broadly, especially the connection between rights, culture and faith.

"Among the women's groups we spoke with, family violence was a recurring issue, along with access to clean water and sanitation," she said.

The scoping visit team met with a diverse range of people: the President, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Parliament, parliamentarians and government minsters, as well as other key officials, such as the public defender.

In addition, representatives from all the inhabited Gilbert and Line islands attended the consultations, as well as representatives from civil society organisations, the private sector, village communities and traditional leaders.

"We were delighted with the high degree of support for the consultations across the board, as well as the openness of the discussions," Ms Noonan said.


Graphic: Consultations on Easter Island with representatives of disability groups


The APF can provide a tailored program of support when governments in the region are looking to assess the feasibility of establishing an independent NHRI.

A key component of that support is conducting a scoping visit to the country, organised at the request of the government.

For Pacific Island nations, the scoping visit is conducted by the APF in partnership with RRRT and OHCHR.


Based on the information collected during the consultations, the scoping study team will finalise and present a report for consideration by the government in December.

The scoping visit report generally set out two options for establishing an NHRI, based on the country's existing legislative and policy framework.

Similar scoping visits have been conducted with the Federated States of Micronesia in May 2019 and Vanuatu in July 2019.

Date: 14 November 2019


Image credits

  1. Community consultation with mayors, elders and other representatives from the two Line Islands - APF
  2. Children play on a beach in Tarawa - jopolopy, Flickr CC; http://bit.ly/35uLWoj
  3. Consultations on Easter Island with representatives of disability groups - APF