Human rights can help Samoa become a better nation

By Maiava Iulai Toma 10 December 2017, 12:00AM

Message from the Office of the Ombudsman on Human Rights Day

The National Human Rights Institution would like to wish everyone a very happy Human Rights Day! 

Celebrated every 10 December, in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then Samoa has taken giant steps in protecting and promoting the enjoyment and fulfilment of human rights for each and every one of us.

We have signed five of the major human rights conventions, were involved in the creation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and currently have the only Pacific representative sitting on one of the human rights committees in Justice Vui. 

We have a lot to be proud of, but we also have a lot to do. 

The National Human Rights Institution is to think about how human rights apply to us here in Samoa and to use those standards to protect people and strengthen our culture and our faith. We believe that human rights can help us be a better nation with equal opportunities for all in a more peaceful stable society. Some people say that human rights is something from overseas, that it doesn’t apply to us or goes against our beliefs. 

We don’t think that at all, and truly believe that they can help us grow stronger together. 

In celebration of human rights day take a moment to have a look at what those rights actually are and decide whether you think they are good for us to try to work to protect!

The following is a simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we want to share with everyone so they have an understanding of what rights they have:

All people everywhere have the same human rights which no one can take away. This is the basis of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

This Declaration affirms the dignity and worth of all people, and the equal rights of women and men. The rights described here are the common standard for all people everywhere. Every person and nation is asked to support the understanding and respect for these rights, and to take steps to make sure that they are recognised and observed everywhere, for all people.

Article 1: Everyone is born free and equal in dignity and with rights.

Article 2: You should never be discriminated against for any reason. Rights belong to all people, whatever our differences.

Article 3: Everyone has the rights to life, liberty and security.

Article 4: No-one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

Article 5: No-one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6: You have the right to be treated as a person in the eyes of the law.

Article 7: You have the right to be treated by the law in the same way as everyone else. Everyone has a right to protection against violations of their human rights.

Article 8: If your rights under law are violated, you have the right to see justice done in a court or tribunal.

Article 9: No-one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10: You have the right to a fair and public trial by an independent and impartial tribunal.

Article 11: Everyone is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. 

No one should be charged with a criminal offence for an act which wasn’t an offence at the time the act was done.

Article 12: No-one has the right to intrude in your private life or interfere with your home and family without good reason. 



No-one has the right to attack your good name without reason.

Article 13: You have the right to freedom of movement within your country. Everyone has the right to leave a country and to return home.

Article 14: You have the right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries. You may not invoke this right if fleeing just laws in your own country.

Article 15: You have the right to a nationality.

Article 16: You have the right to marry and to raise a family. Men and women have the same rights when they are married and when they are separated.

Article 17: You have the right to own property and it cannot randomly be taken away from you.

Article 18: You have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to peacefully express those beliefs in teaching, practice and worship.

Article 19: You have the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Article 20: You have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21: You have the right to take part in the government of your country.

Article 22: As a member of society, you have a right to social security.

Article 23: You have the right to work, to good working conditions, to equal pay for equal work and to form and join unions.

Article 24: You have the right to rest and leisure.

Article 25: You have the right to a decent life, including enough food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services.

Article 26: You have the right to an education.

Article 27: No-one may stop you from participating in the cultural life of your community.

Article 28: You have the right to live in the kind of world where your rights and freedoms are respected.

Article 29: We all have a responsibility to the people around us and should protect their rights and freedoms.

Article 30: There is nothing in this declaration that justifies any person or country taking away the rights to which we are all entitled.

Happy Human Rights Day!

By Maiava Iulai Toma 10 December 2017, 12:00AM

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