Samoa makes case in Geneva

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U.P.R. DELEGATION: Back row from left: Olive Vaai, Pierina Katoanga. Front row from left: Constance Rivers, Minister Lautafi Selafi Purcell and Foreign Affairs C.E.O., Peseta Noumea Simi.

U.P.R. DELEGATION: Back row from left: Olive Vaai, Pierina Katoanga. Front row from left: Constance Rivers, Minister Lautafi Selafi Purcell and Foreign Affairs C.E.O., Peseta Noumea Simi.

Samoa’s delegation to the Universal Periodic Review gave a rousing performance in front of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, announcing “you don’t hide behind the shadow of a tree” and that the Samoan government is fully committed to ratifying and implementing all of the core human rights conventions in due course. 

This was Samoa’s second Universal Periodic Review, where U.N. member States are able to make recommendations and comments regarding the realisation of human rights at a national level. 

The Minister for Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, introduced the delegation and provided an overview of progress in Samoa since the first review in 2011.  

States were given the opportunity to make comments and recommendations, with 48 choosing to do so ranging from Fiji and New Zealand to Guatemala and Costa Rica. 

The interventions by the 48 States covered a range of topics and included recommendations on addressing gender based violence, reducing child labour and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other core human rights treaties, such as the Convention against Torture (C.A.T.) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (I.C.E.S.C.R.). 

The opportunity was also taken by all of the speakers to commend Samoa on the progress it has made since 2011 with particular focus on the achievements made in establishing a National Human Rights institution, the passage of the Family Safety Act, introducing a quota for women in Parliament and criminalising marital rape. 

The interactive dialogue was remarkable due to the frank and honest approach taken by the delegation, which was a credit to Samoa and thoroughly appreciated by the member States present. 

Furthermore, the level of commendation given by the member States reflects the hard work that has been put in by many ministries, civil society organisations and individuals over the past 5 years. 

 “I have been in awe of the positiveness (sic) of the comments we have received this morning and would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your encouragement and recommendations,” said Lautafi. 

The delegation now has several days to consider the recommendations Samoa has received and is due to decide which to accept before the adoption of the outcome report on Monday. 

The recommendations that are accepted will be implemented over the coming years and provide a framework for greater enjoyment of human rights in Samoa in the coming years. 

The next Universal Periodic Review of Samoa will be held in 4.5 years. 

Effective implementation of the recommendations received by Samoa will be key in order to further improve the human rights record of the country and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (O.H.C.H.R.) has already pledged their ongoing support in this endeavour. 

Apia-based O.H.C.H.R. Universal Periodic Review Coordinator Ashley Bowe commented: “Samoa has achieved a great deal in advancing human rights since 2011 and their commitment to the U.P.R. process has been commendable. O.H.C.H.R. stands by to provide any necessary assistance to Samoa in building on these successes and implementing the recommendations it chooses to accept.” The full review can be viewed at: http://webtv.un.org/watch/samoa-review-25th-session-of-universal-periodic-review/4875776953001

© Samoa Observer 2016

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