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UPR of Samoa: Issues with implementation of Human Rights treaties including LGBT rights

in SAMOA, 17/05/2011

Key issues that were addressed were the widespread violence against women; difficulties of dealing with the impact of climate change especially on the implementation of human rights; the low rate of ratified or signed international human rights treaties; discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; ill-treatment of children, including corporal punishment at home and in schools; and the exploitation of children with regards to child labour.

The Working Group on the UPR examined the human rights record of Samoa on 9 May 2011. Samoa was represented by a high level delegation comprised of three men and four women. The delegation was headed by Mr Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa. Mr Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo introduced his delegation and was one amongst three representatives who answered questions.

The Minister addressed the issues raised in an organised and structured manner; in his opening statement he answered some of the written questions submitted by States in advance. Key issues that were addressed were the widespread violence against women; difficulties of dealing with the impact of climate change especially on the implementation of human rights; the low rate of ratified or signed international human rights treaties; discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; ill-treatment of children, including corporal punishment at home and in schools; and the exploitation of children with regards to child labour.

Some of the more specific recommendations and questions put to the delegation included:

  • Encouragement to establish an independent national human rights institution (NHRI) in accordance with the Paris Principles to allow for effective implementation of all human rights efforts.
  • Raising the minimum age for criminal responsibility (from the current age of 10) and the age of entry into the workforce in accordance with international standards.
  • Revising existing laws on the criminalisation of same-sex relationships and reducing the discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
  • Continuing the comprehensive promotion of sexual education especially targeting adolescence boys and girls in order to prevent early pregnancy and HIV.
  • Continuing the support for the work of organisations promoting the access to work and education of persons with disabilities.
  • Ratifying all outstanding conventions, and extending a standing invitation to special procedure mandate holders. Specific calls for ratification included the Optional Protocol of CRC, CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, CERD, CESCR, CAT, CRPD and CMW, as well as ILO convention 169 with regards to indigenous and tribal people
  • Continuing efforts to fully implement the abolishment of the death penalty.
  • Implementing a national action plan to establish gender equality, particularly in regards to the representation of women  in political positions and inheritance laws, and to eradicate discrimination of women particularly with regards to domestic violence.
  • Continue to improve the treatment of children with regards to children living on streets, sexual exploitation, and labor exploitation as well as low registration of children in schools.
  • Continuing efforts to tackle global warming due to the effect of climate change on the full realisation of human rights.

Many States praised the engagement of Samoa in the UPR and for its initiatives regarding climate change. New Zealand offered to continue its assistance to Samoa in developing policies to address the consequences of climate change on human rights. The delegation furthermore ensured to work closely with NGOs and international partners on climate change mitigation and the investment into renewable energy.

In conclusion, Mr Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo highlighted the country's commitment to the UPR and human rights, and ensured that the Government will continue to assess signing other human rights instruments. Positively, Mr Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo agreed that his country would extend an open invitation to special procedure mandate holders. However, he remained set on the age of 10 as the age for criminal responsibility but ensured that a youth court has been established for such.

At the adoption of the report by the Working Group, the delegation noted that many of the recommendations made were already in the process of being implemented. The delegation accepted 42 of the 102 recommendations made and
a further 31 that were already considered to be implemented. The accepted recommendations included the ratifications of outstanding human rights conventions as well as the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.They furthermore accepted the recommendations to improve the situation of women with regards to the protection against domestic violence and found the abolition of the death penalty to already be implemented. The delegation rejected a recommendation to set the minimum age of criminal responsibility in compliance with international standards and a recommendation to give men and women equal rights of inheritance.

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