PR - A very important function of the human rights mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman is to carry out national inquiries into widespread, systemic or entrenched situations and practices that violate human rights.
To boost the Office’s skills and capacity to carry out inquiries, Chris Sidoti of the Asia-Pacific Forum for National Human Rights Institution (A.P.F) facilitated a very useful week long workshop on Conducting National Inquiry into Systemic Patterns of Human Rights Violations in efforts to assist Samoa’s N.H.R.I carry out effective national inquiries.
The workshop invited staff of Samoa Law Reform Commission (S.L.R.C) to participate not only because of the cross over in work but also to share their experiences in conducting their Inquiries.
To also assist the Office in exploring various human rights violation issues as possible inquiry subjects, the workshop featured expert input by ‘Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil Likiliki who is the Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre of Tonga and who shared her experiences in national inquiries in women’s and children’s rights and lobbing and advocating for these issues both locally and regional arenas.
As the workshop began on the 25th of July, the Office also participated in the monthly “Orange Day” campaign to promote the fight to end violence against women by wearing an orange piece to work.
National inquiries are among the most effective strategies available to national human rights institutions around the world for investigating and drawing attention to pressing human rights issues.
They facilitate investigating systemic discrimination and human rights violations, and educating the broader community about the issues. Inquiry recommendations seek to help governments and all relevant bodies to uphold obligations under international human rights standards and create positive change.
The workshop provided staff with a step-by-step understanding of the process to establish and conduct a national inquiry, including from selecting the inquiry subjects, collecting evidence, developing recommendations to writing the report and planning follow up activities to promote inquiry findings.
The Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, shared “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.
National Inquiries help direct our attention to these issues and examine ways to address it so that we can continue to move forward and enjoy our harmonious society”.