Two Human Rights Commission advisors were in Samoa last week at the Asia Pacific Forum Roundtable on promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls in the Pacific region.
An important outcome of the meeting was the ‘Apia Statement’, which identifies key human rights issues affecting women and girls in the region.
“The Apia Statement also makes recommendations on the prioritisation and promotion of gender equality within established National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), ombudsmen’s offices, government agencies and others working in this area,” says Dr Margaret MacDonald, a Senior Human Rights Advisor at the Commission.
Human Rights Advisor Tuiloma Lina-Jodi Samu and Dr MacDonald joined representatives of the Australian Human Rights Commission; the Office of the ombudsmen of Samoa, Tūvalu and the Cook Islands; and senior representatives from government agencies in Nauru, the Solomon Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
“Samoan Victim Support and Samoa Lifeline chief executives also participated, giving an important NGO viewpoint of this kaupapa,” Ms Samu says.
The roundtable also focused on increasing support to newly established NHRIs and states looking to establish their own independent NHRIs.
NHRIs are independent organisations that are established by governments and operate under international rules with the specific role of protecting and promoting human rights.
The meeting attracted significant media interest in Samoa, with Ms Samu interviewed by four Samoan television and radio networks, with a combined reach across the island nation, but also to the Samoan diaspora around the world.
The Roundtable was generously hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman Samoa and funded by the Asia Pacific Forum with support from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.