UN cites high rates of gender-based violence and violence against children

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has outlined concerns and urged the Samoa Government to take action on certain issues including the high rates of gender-based violence and violence against children. 

In a letter to Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa dated 1 July 2022 obtained by Radio Polynesia, Bachelet recommends that Samoa undertake further necessary legislative and policy measures to address issues that have been cited. 

High Commissioner for Human Rights said she has been following the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Independent State of Samoa and welcome the constructive engagement of the Government of Samoa during the 39th session of the UPR Working Group in November 2021.

“As the final outcome report on the review of Samoa was recently adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 49° session, I would like to take this opportunity to follow up on a number of areas raised in the two reports that my Office had prepared for the review of Samoa — the Compilation of United Nations information and the Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions — which I consider in need of particular attention over the next four and a half years until the next cycle of the UPR. 

“In identifying those areas, I have considered the statements and recommendations made by 54 delegations and the presentation made and responses provided by the delegation of Samoa. 

I have also considered the actions taken by the Government of Samoa to implement the 92 recommendations supported during the second cycle of the UPR.” 

Bachelet said that Samoa has ratified several core international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2016, the Convention against Tomire and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in 2019, and the three Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 2016.

“I acknowledge the challenge of implementing the recommendations received and adopting the necessary laws and policies and would encourage taking a holistic and victim-centred approach to determine prioritisation of efforts and funding.

“I note, however, the studies revealing very high rates of gender-based violence and violence against children and would like to recommend that Samoa undertake further necessary legislative and policy measures to address this issue. 

“Taking into consideration the recommendations made by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2018 (CEDAW/C/WSM/CO/6), the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016 (CRC/C/WSM/CO/2-4), the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women and girls in law and in practice, following its mission to Samoa in 2017 (A/HRC/38/46/Add.1) and the 2018 National Public Inquiry into Family Violence in Samoa. My office stands ready to provide any assistance that might be required in this regard.” 

Bachelet encourages Samoa to develop a comprehensive national human rights action plan in order to achieve concrete results in the areas highlighted in the annex to this letter (which we will report on later) and to facilitate preparations for the fourth cycle of the UPR. 

“My advice to all Member States is to develop and implement national action plans in close consultation and cooperation with all stakeholders, in particular the national human rights institution and all civil society organizations and, where necessary, with the support of international organizations, including my Office and other United Nations entities, under the leadership of the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

“I also encourage Samoa to continue strengthening the National Mechanism for the Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up Taskforce for comprehensive reporting and follow-up to recommendations received from all international and regional human rights mechanisms and to treaty obligations, linking them to the Sustainable Development Goals.” 

Adding that she has been sharing her advice with all Member States as they go through the third cycle of the UPR with a view to assisting States with the implementation of the recommendations, following the review. 

One important measure that can positively contribute to follow-up action is voluntary mid-term reporting. 

“Therefore, I strongly encourage all Member States to submit a voluntary mid-term report two years after the adoption of the UPR outcome report. In this regard, I encourage the Government of Samoa to consider submitting a mid-term report on follow-up to the third cycle of the review by 2024.”