Samoa’s delegation in Geneva has indicated to the Human Rights Council it would immediately accept 91 of the recommendations made to them during Samoa’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review (U.P.R) at the beginning of the month.
Samoa received range of recommendations and was given the opportunity to respond and highlight particular challenges faced in ensuring full human rights for all Samoans.
A sensitive issue for Samoa was broached when a number of recommendations were made to decriminalise same sex relations and combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Our culture and the social fabric of the country are very important elements to take into consideration,” said Peseta Noumea Simi, C.E.O of M.F.A.T.
“And that this is a huge challenge but we will not hide behind the shadow of a tree and during this U.P.R our direction has been set and (we must) ensure that we do move forward.”
In total, Samoa received 129 recommendations and now has until September to communicate to the Human Rights Council whether it will choose to accept and implement the remaining 38 recommendations.
Head of delegation and Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, spoke on behalf of Samoa to address the Council.
“Despite the constraints and peculiarities of our circumstances, we have come to Geneva, we have listened, we have been assured of support in the way forward, and we are even more resolute in our determination in setting clear targets that we can realistically achieve by the end of this cycle,” he said.
Among the recommendations accepted by the government of Samoa were:
- Ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- Take positive steps to implement the Family Safety Act and reduce gender based violence through public awareness, the provision of training to relevant agencies and the establishment of shelters in cooperation with SVSG;
- Strengthen the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) and pursue all of the recommendations made in the NHRI State of Human Rights Report 2015;
- Address sexual violence and establish a sex offenders register;
- Increase protection of children, including establishing mechanisms to prevent child labour;
- Protect land rights for indigenous communities;
- Monitor and address the long term effects of climate change;
- Establish an inter-ministerial National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-Up to coordinate all human rights implementation and reporting.
During the review on 3 May, Samoa was questioned and commended on its human rights record by UN Member States and it was during this dialogue that the recommendations were made.
The U.P.R is a unique forum in that it provides all States with an equal opportunity to highlight its progress and the challenges it faces and to enter into a constructive dialogue with other countries from across the world.
In Samoa’s first U.P.R, it was recommended by a number of countries that a National Human Rights Institution (N.H.R.I) should be established and as a result of that Samoa received international support to achieve this.
Samoa’s success in establishing an N.H.R.I within the Office of the Ombudsman was widely lauded in the review in Geneva last week and demonstrates the strength of the U.P.R process.
Peseta Noumea Simi encapsulated the spirit of the U.P.R as a process of working hand in hand with countries from around the world to improve human rights standards at a grass root level while respecting cultural values and practices.
It is now up to the government to consider the remaining recommendations made to it before the adoption of the final report in September, after which implementation of all recommendations will begin in earnest.
The full review can be viewed at: http://webtv.un.org/watch/samoa-review-25th-session-of-universal-periodic-review/4875776953001
And further information found at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/WSSession25.aspx