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Samoa launches landmark State of Human Rights Report

Graphic: A group of women take part in consultations

The report - the first of its kind in Samoa - highlights the need for better safeguards for women, children, people with disabilities and prisioners.

Samoa's national human rights institution has released a landmark report on the state of human rights in the Pacific Island nation, drawing on feedback from extensive consultations with all sectors of the community.

The first-ever State of Human Rights Report was submitted to Parliament on 30 June 2015 and released to the public on 18 August 2015.

The report dispels misconceptions that currently exist in Samoa about the nature and purpose of human rights and discusses the relationship between Fa'asamoa and the international human rights system, including the relationship between individual and community rights.

It further explores the Fa'asamoa principles of equality, respect and protection, which complement basic human rights in international law, as well as the relationship between these principles and key report themes of equality, respect and protection of vulnerable populations; all aspects of health; environmental health; and religious and economic freedoms.

The report highlights the needs for better safeguards for equality and respect for women, children, people with disabilities and prisoners. It was clear from the research and outreach the NHRI conducted that these groups are the most vulnerable in Samoan society and the most in need of stronger human rights protections.

The report concludes with a discussion of the emerging issues of mental health and freedom of speech. It also makes a number of recommendations to relevant Government ministries and agencies to better strengthen human rights protections for the people of Samoa.

Graphic: The Ombudsman and staff at the report launch

Samoa's State of Human Rights report was formally launched by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who commended the NHRI on its work and called for the formation of a Parliamentary Committee to follow up on the report's recommendations. He also urged relevant government ministries to implement the report's recommendations.

The launch was attended by representatives from Government ministries, civil society, community groups and international organisations who all provided valuable input which underpinned the findings of the report.

The Ombudsman echoed the Prime Minister's comments, thanked the government and civil society for their cooperation and stated that it was in "this spirit of cooperation that we [the NHRI] seek to work with all stakeholders to ensure that human rights are protected for everyone in Samoa".

In a video message, Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, commended Samoa's NHRI for the report and the practical recommendations that it presented to the parliament and the executive to better protect and promote human rights in Samoa.

The State of Human Rights Report will be debated when Parliament next meets. It is available on the Office of the Ombudsman's website and Facebook page.

Date: 20 August 2015

Image credits

  1. A group of women take part in consultations - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  2. The Ombudsman and staff at the report launch - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa