Samoa is more family, brotherhood: Fiame

By Marc Membrere 13 December 2021, 7:39PM

Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has told 100 of the world's democratic leaders, that Samoa’s ability to withstand epidemics and recover from natural disasters and other setbacks reflects its culture of strength and resilience. 

Fiame delivered her virtual speech as part of the ‘Summit for Democracy’, which is a virtual event hosted by the United States President Joe Biden and attended by more than 100 world leaders.

The Summit, which ran between 9-10 December, brought together leaders from not just Government, but also civil society, and the private sector. It was part of America’s shared effort to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.

“Samoa is not a Government, Samoa is family and brotherhood,” Fiame said in her address. 

“Our unique Fa’a Samoa (Samoan ways), our culture and traditions mean we take collective responsibility for each other. Our core values of respect, dignity, love, protection and service guide social interaction.”

The Prime Minister said Samoa’s communal culture ingrained in people the notion, the pathway to leadership is through service.

“I believe that this is the same concept of democracy promoted in the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of Government,” she said.

“Samoa will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2022 since gaining independence. Our long journey has been tested with the threats of pandemics, natural disasters, climate change and more recently a constitutional crisis following our 2021 general elections.

“Our ability to recover from devastating natural disasters to learn from tragic epidemics and to survive a political crisis is testament to our resilient people, strong culture, and functioning democratic processes and institutions which protect human rights and uphold the rule of law.”

She said the country’s constitution remains the supreme law of the land, and is the basis for Samoans’ fundamental rights and freedoms before the law.

Fiame said Samoa has signed up to six of the nine core human rights conventions including the protection of political and civil rights, the rights of children and persons with disabilities and the elimination of discrimination against women.

“We are also committed to taking a human rights approach to implementing our sustainable development goals, focusing investment in people, especially the vulnerable groups and strengthening social protection to name a few,” she said.

“Our recent human rights report acknowledged that advancements in [Information and Communications Technology] were key in our human rights agenda. 

"Our Office of the Electoral Commission had utilised social media to increase awareness, participation and an enhanced political dialogue amongst the general population to encourage more engagement in the year's general election.”

But Fiame said that technology’s recent advance has also come with abuse with malicious intent. She said the country was engaged in efforts to prevent cybercrime and address cyber security to protect freedom of speech and ensure a free press.

“We further recognise the importance for a national and global response in the fight against corruption. Samoa has committed to several initiatives aimed at further strengthening our anti-corruption policy and legislative landscape,” she said.

“These include development of an anti-corruption strategy, a right to information policy and legislation, and open access policy, as well as a clearer guideline on conducting parallel investigations when it comes to official corruption in Government.

“Mr. President, we are an elected Government, empowered by the people who voted for us. Our culture and Christian values, mutually reinforce human rights principles. 

"Samoa stands ready to work with the international community and partners such as the US in ensuring the successful implementation of the fundamental democratic principles.”

By Marc Membrere 13 December 2021, 7:39PM
Samoa Observer

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