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EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN SAMOA, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:26
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1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Samoa’s Government generally respects and enforces human rights provisions of the country’s Constitution and legislative framework and is strongly committed to continue improving human rights standards. There are,  however,  persisting  human  rights’  concerns  that  need  to  be  addressed,  particularly  gender based / domestic violence. Consenting relationship between adults of the same sex is still criminalised in Samoa (no reports of the law enforcement).  There is a potential pressure on freedom of religion following amendment in June 2017 of the Constitution to transform the country from a secular to a Christian state. A traditional system of governance co-exists

249 with  democratic  process  in  Samoa,  affecting  the  participation  of  women  in  politics  and  public decision-making. While there is universal suffrage for all Samoan citizens aged 21 and over,  still  only  chiefs  of  villages  (matai)  may  contest  the  elections.  The  number  of  women  holding matai title remains low, which constitutes a barrier to increasing number of women candidates in the elections. Women's participation in the village council decision-making is mainly indirect. A constitutional amendment, which introduced a 10 % parliamentary quota for  female  MPs  in  2013,  resulted  in  five  female  MPs  (out  of  total  50  MPs)  in  the  current  parliament.

2. EU Action - key focus areas: Through dialogue with the government and non-state actors in conjunction with various financial instruments, the EU has been promoting human rights, gender equality and increased participation of women in decision-making.

3. EU bilateral political engagement: Meetings at various levels were used as a platform to promote respect for human rights and gender equality in the Pacific region including Samoa. The  EU  bilateral  engagement  followed  up  on  issues  discussed  in  the  enhanced  EU-Samoa Political Dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, held in Apia in October 2016, where  human  rights  and  democracy  issues,  as  well  as  policy  measures  taken  by  the  authorities,  were  addressed.  Samoa  committed  to  continue  its  active  engagement  in  the  discussion  of  human  rights  issues  with  CSOs,  which  were  represented  at  the  political  dialogue,   and   the   development   partners.   The   EU   invited   Samoa   to   accede   to   the   International  Covenant  on  Economic,  Social  and  Cultural  Rights,  and  invited  Samoa  to  examine the possibility of decriminalising male homosexuality.

In  the  Pacific  region,  including  Samoa,  climate  change  and  human  rights  are  closely  intertwined. In this regard, the EU delegation for the Pacific will continue actively promoting climate change awareness.

4.  EU  financial  engagement:  The  EU  provides  support  to  the  Samoan  civil  society  to  strengthen engagement between the civil society and the Government of Samoa in strategic planning,  implementation  and  oversight  along  the  key  sectors  of  the  Strategy  for  the Development  of  Samoa.  Human  rights  and  gender  related  issues  are  addressed  through  support to CSOs working with communities, village councils, government institutions and the NHRI in order to challenge gender stereotyping, increase public awareness of existing legal rights,  as  well  as  protection  offered  to  victims,  contributing  to  the  reduction  of  violence  against women and greater empowerment of women in Samoan society.  

Samoa is a focus country under the new regional Pacific Partnership to End Violence against Women and Girls programme, launched in November 2018 and funded primarily by the EU with targeted support from the Australian Government and cost-sharing  from  UN  Women.  The  action  is  implemented  in  partnership  with  government,  CSOs,  communities  and  other  partners  to  promote  gender  equality,  prevent  violence  against  women  and  girls,  and  increase   access   to   quality   response   services   for   survivors.   The   activities   under   the   programme  will  support,  inter  alia,  the  implementation  of  key  recommendations  from  the  National  Inquiry  into  Family  Violence  Report  2018;  working  out  a  violence  prevention  approach;  linking  Samoan  partners  to  a  regional  Community  of  Practice  that  encourages  knowledge  sharing;  assisting  survivors  of  gender  based  violence,  especially  in  remote  and  hard to access locations around Samoa.

5. Multilateral context: Samoa has been actively and positively engaging in the UN for a. The country makes efforts to implement the UPR recommendations and has a leading role in the construction of  Pacific  regionalism.  On  28  March  2019,  Samoa  acceded  to  the  Convention  against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).  The next UPR for Samoa is expected in 2021

 

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