Under the Ombudsman (Komesina O Sulufaiga) Act 2013, Office of the Ombudsman now functions as the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa (NHRI). The Ombudsman is tasked with inquiring into, and reporting on, alleged violations of human rights. If the Ombudsman becomes aware of widespread, systemic or entrenched situations or practices that violate human rights, the Ombudsman may initiate an inquiry, resulting in a report on the findings. Information about such violations can come from any source, including the public, community organisations, churches, traditional authorities or any other person.
If an inquiry finds evidence of human rights violations, the report may include any or all of the following:
(a) a determination that a violation of human rights has occurred and should not be repeated or continued;
(b) a recommendation that a person should perform reasonable acts to redress the violation of human rights; and
(c) a recommendation that victims of violations are entitled to compensation for any loss or damage suffered;
(d) a recommendation for action to any person and require the person to report to the Ombudsman on the steps that the person has taken to give effect to the recommendations.
At the completion of an inquiry, the Ombudsman is required to:
(a) make public the report, findings and recommendations; and
(b) provide Parliament with a copy of the report, findings and recommendations.
Following the submission of the report, the Speaker will table the report in Parliament for discussion or for referral to a relevant parliamentary committee. The Parliamentary committee is required to assess the report, and may require a formal response to the report from the Government or other persons. The committee will then table its report in Parliament for debate.
The Ombudsman may receive oral or written complaints about human rights violations. The Ombudsman may not investigate any individual complaints, but these complaints may form the basis for conducting an inquiry. The Ombudsman may refer the complaint to a relevant authority.
As the NHRI is in its first year of establishment, the Ombudsman is yet to undertake any inquiries, and has not yet received any complaints. This section of the website will be updated as and when any inquiries are undertaken.