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National Human Rights Institution
Annual Report

As part of the human rights functions of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman must prepare a report on the status of human rights in Samoa for the previous year. The report must be prepared before 30 June every year. The report must include recommendations about reforms and other measures which could be taken to prevent or redress human rights violations; any action taken by the Government on previous recommendations; and any action taken by the Government to promote and protect human rights. The report must be submitted to the Speaker for tabling, following which the Legislative Assembly will refer the report to the parliamentary committee responsible for human rights. The parliamentary committee will scrutinise the report, including a submission of recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.

The first annual report will be due in mid-2014.

 
Inquiries and Complaints

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 nascence, the Ombudsman is yet to undertake any inquiries, and has not yet received any complaints. This section of the website will be updated as any inquiries are undertaken.

 
International Human Rights Instruments

The core international human rights instruments and their monitoring bodies are listed on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. More links are below.

Samoa is a party to:

  1. oHuman Rights Committee
  1. oCommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  1. oCommittee on the Rights of the Child
  2. oUNICEF

For more detailed information about Samoa’s engagement with these treaties, see International Engagement [link]

Other International Human Rights Instruments:

  1. oUN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  1. oUN Economic and Social Council
  2. oCommittee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  1. oCommittee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  1. oCommittee against Torture
  1. oCommittee on Migrant Workers
  1. oCommittee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  1. oCommittee on Enforced Disapperances

 

Since 2008, Samoa is a party to the following International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions:

Other ILO instruments:

 
The ILO

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity. Today, the ILO helps advance the creation of decent work and the economic and working conditions that give working people and business people a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress. Its tripartite structure provides a unique platform for promoting decent work for all women and men. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

Text source, and for more information, see the mission and objectives of the ILO.

Samoa’s Reporting Obligations

Once a country has ratified an ILO convention, it is obliged to report regularly on measures it has taken to implement it, to the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. Every two years governments must submit reports detailing the steps they have taken in law and practice to apply any of the eight fundamental and four priority conventions they may have ratified; for all other conventions, reports must be submitted every five years, except for conventions that have been shelved (no longer supervised on a regular basis). Reports on the application of conventions may be requested at shorter intervals. Governments are required to submit copies of their reports to employers’ and workers’ organizations. These organizations may comment on the governments’ reports; they may also send comments on the application of conventions directly to the ILO.

The Committee of Experts was set up in 1926 to examine the growing number of government reports on ratified conventions. Today it is composed of 20 eminent jurists appointed by the Governing Body for three-year terms. The Experts come from different geographic regions, legal systems and cultures. The Committee's role is to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the state of application of international labour standards.

When examining the application of international labour standards the Committee of Experts makes two kinds of comments: observations and direct requests. Observations contain comments on fundamental questions raised by the application of a particular convention by a state. These observations are published in the Committee's annual report. Direct requests relate to more technical questions or requests for further information. They are not published in the report but are communicated directly to the governments concerned.

The Committee's annual report consists of three parts. Part I contains a General Report, which includes comments about member states' respect for their Constitutional obligations and highlights from the Committee's observations; Part II contains the observations on the application of international labour standards, while Part III is a General Survey.

The Committee’s comments, requests, and country reporting for Samoa are available on the ILO website.

[Text source: ILO Committee of Experts website

 
Universal Periodic Review

The Human Rights Council (HRC)

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.

The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) serves as the HRC’s Secretariat. The Human Rights Council replaced the former UN Commission on Human Rights.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

The Universal Periodic Review "has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.” – Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General.

The HRC is tasked with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a state-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by Resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, had reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the HRC which reminds states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing States’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.

[Some of Above Text Sourced From: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRmain.aspx]

Samoa and the UPR

Samoa had its first UPR in 2011. For the documents relating to this UPR, including the national report and the outcome document, please see the OHCHR Website. A number of conclusions and recommendations came out of the Review, which the NHRI will seek to assist the government in implementing, including the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and any other human rights treaties. Many countries recommended that Samoa establish a National Human Rights Institution/Commission, which is now in existence, and will be fully operational by the next UPR. Other recommendations by states raised issues relating to gender equality, equality for all people, and non-discrimination in general, prisoner rights, and the minimum ages of marriage and of criminal responsibility. Samoa rejected recommendations relating to the decriminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

Samoa is due to have its next UPR assessed at the 25th session of the HRC, in April-May 2016. The deadline for the submission of the national report is 25 January 2016. The Ombudsman will assist in the drafting of the national report and participate in the UPR process. This may include an assessment of implementation of outcomes from the previous UPR outcome document, broad consultations and interactive dialogue nationally and with OHCHR, and preparing a submission to OHCHR.

For more information on the UPR process, see the OHCHR Website.

 
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