Gender-based violence, environmental crime and cybercrime were among the issues discussed by the Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network (P.I.L.O.N).
The network of senior law officers from across the Pacific met in Samoa earlier this month. This was confirmed by Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, in response to questions from the Sunday Samoan about their two day conference.
In attendance were senior law officials from the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Australia.
“P.I.L.ON provides a valuable way for Samoan government lawyers to share knowledge and experiences with our other Pacific colleagues, and I have been very pleased to have had some of those Pacific colleagues in Apia with us last week,” Lemalu said.
According to the Attorney General, the meeting discussed matters such as the M.O.U [memorandum of understanding] between Samoa, NZ and Australia, confirming that the P.I.L.O.N Secretariat will remain in Apia.
“It also evaluated, confirmed and affirmed the on-going work of the three working groups for the areas of S.G.B. Violence, Environmental Crime and Cybercrime.”
“The work of these groups encourages co-operation and assistance for regional and domestic changes to support on-going legal development.”
“For example - Cybercrime is Chaired by the Kingdom of Tonga as led by their D.P.P and Acting AG Aminiasi Kefu, and after attending their seminar 22-25May 2017, the AG of Samoa has recommended that government consider taking steps towards ratification of the Budapest (EU) Convention on Cybercrime.”
“Samoa Chairs the S.G.B.V. sub-committee which is currently drafting prosecutorial guidelines for the region.”
Lemalu said the Environmental Crime committee meets in Nadi in August under Nauru’s leadership to continue its work.
The P.I.L.O.N A.G.M. is set to be hosted in the Marshall Islands in October this year, and the Samoan AG’s office is set and confirmed to host the P.I.L.O.N Litigation Skills course helping some 40 government lawyers from 6-8 regional countries as led by New Zealand Crown Law, in November this year.
According to their website, the P.I.L.ON provides a forum for addressing law and justice issues common to countries within the Pacific region.
Although P.I.L.O.N is an independent body it has close relationships with regional and international organisations.
“Pacific island countries face common challenges in the law and justice field. “The network focuses on legal issues that are not addressed in other Pacific policy forums.
“P.I.L.O.N aims to provide a forum where these issues can be discussed and progressed at a regional level. Through P.I.L.O.N, communication and cooperation between law officers in the Pacific region is enhanced.”
The founding member countries of PILON are Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Photo: Pacific Island Law Officers’ Network executive committee meeting held in Samoa:
L-R S.O.A.G., Andrew Elisara and Ane Iati; Assistant Secretary Australia of Attorney Generals Dept, Karen Moore; Secretary for Justice and Border Control, Nauru, Graham Leung ; Deputy Attorney General Marshall Islands, Johnathen Kawakami; Director Public Prosecution Solomon Islands, Ronald Talasasa; Attorney General Federated State of Micronesia - Chair P.I.L.O.N. .E.C.; Joses Gallen; Crown Law Officer N.Z., Jo Mildenhall, Samoa’s Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff; Policy Advisor Martha Piper; P.I.L.O.N. Coordinator Sasae Walter; S.O.A.G. Assistant Attorney Generals Loretta Teueli and Sefo Ainu’u.