The Office of the Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institution took to the streets of Falelatai and Samatau celebrations of Human Rights Day 2015 last year.
The event saw the districts coming out in colourful fashion to celebrate the day in continuous efforts to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of the value of human rights in Samoa particularly in our rural communities.
The theme “Embracing our freedoms and equal rights for all for a peaceful Samoa” resonates with the international human rights theme for 2015/2016 “Our rights, our freedoms always” place emphasis on the celebration of our freedoms and rights that makes Samoa unique from other countries in the world.
This year, 2016, is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (I.C.E.S.C.R) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (I.C.C.P.R), which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.
Samoa is party to many of the core international human rights instruments including the I.C.C.P.R. 2016 marks eight years since Samoa ratified this covenant.
The I.C.C.P.R has 167 state parties (as of 5 August 2013); the I.C.E.S.C.R has 160 (Samoa is not a party to the I.C.E.S.C.R).
This year the Office of the Ombudsman will continue its work in raising the awareness and understanding of our people on essential rights and what they really mean in efforts to combat misunderstanding and misconceptions about human rights.
The Office is currently running two separate competitions catered to various age groups.
In collaboration with the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission (O.H.C.H.R) in Fiji, the Celebrating Freedom Poster Competition targets primary school students aged 5 – 11 years old and Secondary School students aged 12-18 years old.
The winning posters from each category will be sent to Geneva to represent Samoa in the O.H.C.H.R’s International Celebrating Freedom Poster Competition held next month. Entries will be closed on the 29th of January.
The Freedom of Expression Contest targets individuals from 19 years and over or groups, schools, workplace etc.
In efforts to have a community engagement on issues of human rights, participants are invited to tell us what right you stand for through various forms of expression.
Deadline is Friday 5th February 2016. Cash prizes to be won! The Human Rights Day is a National day and is celebrated every year on the 10th of December.