About the ICCPR

Samoa acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (ICCPR) in February 2008.

The ICCPR forms part of what is known as the ‘International Bill of Rights’, which also includes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) (ICESCR), and 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both the ICCPR and the ICESCR entered into force in 1976. The ICCPR has 167 state parties (as of 5 August 2013); the ICESCR has 160 (Samoa is not a party to the ICESCR). Taken together, these rights encompass all the principle rights that people have, and work together complementarily. The ICCPR covers some essential rights such as the rights to:

   •life;
   •freedom from torture and cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment;
   •freedom from slavery;
   •liberty and security of person;
   •liberty of movement and freedom;
   •equality before the law;
   •privacy;
   •family;
   •freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
   •freedom of expression and opinion;
   •freedom of association;
   •peaceful assembly.

Also included in the Covenant are fair trial, detention, and criminal procedural rights. All of these rights are to be applied to all individuals within the territory of the state party, without discrimination or distinction of any kind.

The ICCPR has two Optional Protocols (OPs). The First OP enables the Human Rights Committee to receive and assess individual complaints relating to a state party. The Second OP aims at the abolition of the death penalty. Samoa has not ratified the OPs.

Samoa’s Reporting Obligations

Parties to the ICCPR are required to report to the Human Rights Committee, based in Geneva, after one year, and then subsequently as requested by the Committee. Samoa submitted its first report in May 2009.

The NHRI will advise the Government on its reporting obligations under the ICCPR and on the content of those reports, as well as assist Government Ministries and agencies with the implementation of obligations under the ICCPR. The Ombudsman will also take into account ICCPR rights when reviewing any existing or proposed legislation, to ensure that any legislation is in accordance with Samoa’s ICCPR obligations.