Samoa submits its report

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N.H.R.I: The staff of the Ombudsman’s Office as Samoa’s National Human Rights Institution (N.H.R.I).

N.H.R.I: The staff of the Ombudsman’s Office as Samoa’s National Human Rights Institution (N.H.R.I).

Samoa has submitted a stakeholder report to the Universal Periodic Review in advance of Samoa’s second review scheduled to take place in Geneva in April or May 2016. 

The report has been submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman, as the National Human Rights Institution (N.H.R.I) of Samoa.

The report looks in detail at how the country is meeting its wide range of human rights obligations and progress made since Samoa’s first cycle review in 2011. 

The report was compiled by staff from the Office and drew upon the research and findings of the ‘State of Human Rights Report’, published in August 2015.

Building on the theme of ‘For Samoa By Samoa’ the UPR report submitted by the NHRI stated:

“Respecting and protecting the human rights of all Samoans is an integral foundation to ensure sustainable and inclusive development for all. And it is intrinsically linked to the traditional principles of Fa’a Samoa that guide our lives here.”

The report goes on to commend the government and the state for many achievements since 2011 in the field of human rights, not least in establishing the N.H.R.I within the Office of the Ombudsman but also in signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and introducing a 10% quota for female parliamentarians in the 2016 election. 

However, it also highlights several areas where improvements need to be made, most notably in relation to gender-based violence, children’s rights, persons with disabilities, health, the criminal justice system and freedom of religion. 

The full report can be found at www.ombudsman.gov.ws 

 

What is the Universal 

Periodic Review? 

The UPR was created in 2006 when the United Nations General Assembly ruled that the Human Rights Council should “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations”. 

It is the equivalent to the end of term report a child receives which looks at their recent performance and provides constructive advice for future improvement – only in this case it is reviewing a State’s performance in meeting its human rights obligations. 

Every Member U.N. State undertakes a review every four and a half years and during the review they are invited to travel to Geneva to represent their country. 

The U.P.R. is now in its second cycle – during the first cycle every one of the 193 U.N. Member States undertook a review and sent a delegation to Geneva without exception, demonstrating the importance of this process. 

 

How does it work?

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Reviews take place through an interactive discussion between the State under review and other UN Member States. This takes place during a meeting of the UPR Working Group. During this discussion any UN Member State can pose questions, comments and/or make recommendations to the States under review. Following the review the recommendations are either accepted or noted by the State under review. The State makes a firm commitment to implementing all of the accepted recommendations before its next review in four and a half years time. 

 

How does it affect 

us here in Samoa? 

Once the delegation from Samoa returns from Geneva in 2016 the review will have a big impact in two different ways. 

Firstly, all of the recommendations will be turned into a national plan of action for human rights – essentially a plan of how to implement all of the recommendations made by other countries to Samoa during the review. 

These recommendations will cover a whole range of issues and are likely to affect each and every one of us. 

Secondly, the review is a fantastic opportunity to develop new or stronger partnerships with other countries. When a country makes a recommendation to Samoa on a particular topic then that creates the possibility of Samoa working with that country to implement that recommendation. For example, in Samoa’s first Universal Periodic Review New Zealand recommended the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution. 

As a result, Samoa was able to ask New Zealand for assistance in making this happen and this has led to significant technical support in developing the N.H.R.I. within the Office of the Ombudsman. 

If you would like to know more about the U.P.R. process please contact info@ombudsman.gov.ws 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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