Magistrates in Vanuatu participated in a two-day consultation on 3 and 4 October aimed at strengthening their role in the implementation of the 2008 Family Protection Act which provides a framework for assisting survivors of domestic or family violence.

The consultation, led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and supported by the German Development Bank (KfW), the Australian Government and the Government of Sweden, examined strategies for strengthening existing systems to support the domestic violence prevention and protection measures set out in the Act.

The consultation was facilitated by RRRT staff together with retired Judge Mere Pulea, who has on extensive experience working as a judge on family law matters in Fiji as well as drafting a number of domestic violence laws for Pacific Island countries.

The consultation for Magistrates included discussions on the links between gender, human rights and domestic violence, and the specific legal issues faced when applying the Act. In addition, guidelines to support the courts in interpreting and applying the Act were examined and refined. Once approved, these guidelines will be made available to all Magistrates.

The consultation was closed by Chief Justice Lunabek, who emphasised that while domestic violence is often seen only as an act of violence, it is also important recognize it as a human rights issue. He highlighted that Vanuatu still has very high rates of domestic violence that must be addressed through effective implementation of the Family Protection Act.

The consultation is part of RRRT’s regional judicial strengthening programme, providing tailor-made training programmes to support judges, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors in implementing family violence legislation.

In recognition of the need for continuous engagement with justice actors, RRRT provides on-going support after the initial consultation to collect data and develop judicial tools, and offers follow up training, as needed.

The first consultation of this regional programme was held in Tonga in December 2016 with subsequent meetings taking place in the Solomon Islands, and Marshall Islands in July and August of this year. Further consultations are planned in Kiribati and Nauru during the next 6 months.

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582

Useful link:
SPC Regional Rights Resource Team: http://rrrt.spc.int


Majuro, Marshall Islands- District and Community Court Judges in the Marshall Islands participated in a two-day consultation on 21 and 22 August aimed at strengthening their role in the implementation of the 2011 Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act.


The consultation, led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and supported by the Government of Australia, examined strategies to strengthen existing systems to support the domestic violence prevention and protection measures set out in the Act. The consultation was facilitated by SPC RRRT staff together with Retired Judge John Adams, who has over 45 years of experience working in family law in New Zealand.

The consultation was opened by the Hon. Chief Justice Carl Ingram, who highlighted the importance of Judges understanding how to apply the law to ensure gender equality and family protection. He stated, “These cases that will come before you for protection orders are difficult. However, if you hear a case early and make a decision that protects a person, you may save that person from injury and even death.”

The consultation for Judges included discussions on the links between gender, human rights and domestic violence, and the specific legal issues faced when applying the Act. Guidelines to support the courts in interpreting and applying the Act were examined and refined during the two days. These will now be made available to all Judges.

The Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act came into force in 2011 and provides protection orders to assist those that are affected by family violence and ensures their safety. It defines and criminalises domestic violence, namely any physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse against family members.

The consultation is part of RRRT’s regional judicial strengthening programme which provides tailor-made training programmes to support judges, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors in implementing family violence legislation.

In recognition of the need for continuous engagement with justice actors, RRRT provides on-going support after the initial consultation to collect data and develop judicial tools, and offers follow up training, as needed.

The first consultation as part of this regional programme was held in Tonga in December 2016 and the second in Solomon Islands in July 2017. In the next six months, similar consultations are planned in Kiribati, Nauru and Vanuatu.

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582
Useful link: SPC Regional Rights Resource Team: http://rrrt.spc.int

Honiara, Solomon Islands- Magistrates, lawyers and police prosecutors in the Solomon Islands recently participated in consultations aimed at strengthening their role in the implementation of the Family Protection Act 2014.

The consultations led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT) and supported by the Government of Australia examined strategies to strengthen the existing systems to support the prevention and protection measures against domestic violence set out in the Act.

Over a period of 10 days from 17 to 26 July, SPC- RRRT conducted three consultations with the following justice-sector service providers: (1) the Magistrates, (2) the Police Prosecutors, and (3) the Public Solicitor’s Office including those working in the outer islands.

The Family protection Act came into force on 1 April 2016. It defines and criminalises domestic violence. The Act prohibits physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse against family members.

The Act provides for protection mechanisms to assist those that are affected by domestic violence. Significant is the power of the court to issue Protection Orders, which include various conditions to protect victims of violence within domestic relationships.

Focusing on “The Family Protection Act Human Rights Law and Practice”, the consultations for Magistrates discussed links between gender, human rights and domestic violence; developed tools to support the court in its work on the Family Protection Act and discussed some of the specific legal issues faced when applying the Act, including key challenges.

The Public Solicitor’s and Police Prosecutor’s consultation discussed links between domestic violence, human rights and gender; analysed procedure, evidence and remedies in the Family Protection Act; and examined the role of the Public Solicitors and Police Prosecutors in implementing the Act.

“Crucial to the effective implementation of the Family Protection Act is ensuring the accessibility of remedies provided under the Family Protection Act to victims of family violence. From a human rights lens, combating family violence requires addressing the barriers that confront victims of family violence when they engage with the justice service providers that offer remedies for their protection. These consultations provided an opportunity for Justice Sector Providers to reflect on the implementation of the Family Protection Act to date and provoked critical thinking around the development of practical tools and resources to enhance the implementation the Family Protection Act through their work,” RRRT Acting Director, Nicol Cave said.

SPC RRRT’s support to the Solomon Islands Family Protection Act commenced in 2009 with the placement of a staff member within the Ministry to support the following: the development of the Bill, the creation of the Violence Against Women (VAW) Legislative Task Force in 2010, the development of drafting instructions based on international best practice standards in VAW legislation in 2010 and 2011, public consultations on the Bill in 2011 to 2012, drafting of the Bill in 2013 to 2014, drafting the implementation plan and briefing the members of parliament about the Bill in the months and weeks before the Bill was passed.

The current consultations are part of RRRT’s regional judicial strengthening programme. Through this programme, RRRT works with justice-sector service providers and develops tailor-made training programmes to support Magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors in implementing family violence legislation.
In recognition of the need for continuous engagement with justice actors, RRRT provides on-going support after the initial consultation to collect data and develop judicial tools, and offers follow up training, as needed. The first consultation as part of this regional programme was held in Tonga in December 2016.

In the next six months, similar consultations are planned in Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Vanuatu.


Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582
Useful link:
SPC Regional Rights Resource Team: http://rrrt.spc.int

 

Nadi, Fiji – Representatives of Churches and Faith-based Organisations from nine Pacific countries gathered in Nadi this week (8-10 May) for a consultation convened by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT) to discuss ways in which to work together on implementing Domestic Violence and Family Protection (DVFP) legislation in the region.

Organised by RRRT with the support of the Government of Australia, and co-facilitated by UnitingWorld, the consultation focused on identifying common ground between human rights-based and faith-based approaches to ending violence against women, and working toward marrying these two approaches.

Twelve Pacific Island countries have now enacted some form of DVFP legislation, with Nauru being the most recent in May 2017. The main purpose of this legislation is usually to provide immediate, accessible protection for victims of domestic or intimate partner violence and, in some cases, enable justice for victims. However, as Rev James Bhagwan of the Methodist Church in Fiji pointed out in his opening remarks delivered to the consultation, “Legislation is one thing, implementation is another. We are now faced with the challenge of making this protection real for women and families.”

This is a challenge that RRRT is taking on; in nine countries, RRRT has Country Focal Officers situated in the government ministry responsible for implementing DVFP legislation. This work is undertaken together with governments, international organisations, NGOs and, indeed, faith communities, whose active partnership remains a critical ingredient in spreading awareness, breaking the silence and tackling the stigma around survivors accessing protection. Rev Bhagwan noted that there is nothing new about human rights organisations and faith communities working together; in fact the two often overlap and their histories are intertwined.

“Though they are sometimes positioned in conflict, it is increasingly recognised that there is an intersection between religious values and human rights principles, and that Pacific faith communities must be take the lead if efforts to protect women, children and families are to be meaningful and effective,” he said.

“It has fallen to us, indeed it is our responsibility to connect the head, the heart and the hands in this effort of guiding our communities of faith to recognise the divine imperatives at the core of human rights principles and in our Christian tradition – recognising that even beyond rights – are our individual and collective responsibilities to ensure dignity, safety and the vitality of our women, our children and our families,” Rev Bhagwan added.

The workshop acknowledged that, despite the work of both human rights and faith-based organisations, and despite some major milestones of progress such as passage of new legislation, the Pacific continues to be afflicted by some of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. The enduring scale of the problem mandates an intensified effort on the part of all actors working to end the violence, and closer cooperation than in the past. Human rights and faith-based organisations need to align their messages and, according to Rev Bhagwan, that means learning from each other and working toward a common language.
“For people of faith, that means being able to recognise the heart of secular human rights language. For those in secular organisations it means understanding the theological expressions used by faith communities. Your work is of listening and understanding each other, recognising the truths we both speak and the common objectives we all have.”

The consultation participants agreed that principles such as non-discrimination, equality, human dignity, access to justice, duty of care, love, peace and fullness of life were common to both human rights and faith-based approaches and could underpin this work going forward.

Countries represented included Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. Guest speakers in attendance included representatives of the Pacific Theological College, House of Sarah, UN Women and the Fiji Police Force.

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.
Useful link:
SPC Regional Rights Resource Team: http://rrrt.spc.int

 

Suva, Fiji – The Pacific Community (SPC) has signed a major partnership agreement with the Government of Sweden, which has pledged to provide financial assistance to support the organisation’s human rights programme with advancing human rights and people-centred development in the Pacific.

For more than two decades, SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) has been a home-grown pioneer of human rights and gender capacity-building with Pacific states, providing direct assistance to help end violence against women, achieve access to justice for all, promote human rights and good governance and support civil society action and participation.

“This agreement is a major milestone for our organisation and we are pleased that the Government of Sweden shares our vision for a socially just and equitable Pacific Islands society based on human rights principles, and has matched this commitment with material action. It is my hope that our work together will leave an enduring legacy: the practical realisation of human rights for all Pacific Islanders,” Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.

Sweden’s support to SPC’s RRRT programme forms an integral part of Sweden’s Strategy for Regional Development Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific Region 2017-2021, which envisions strengthening the ability of Pacific states and civil society to address transboundary challenges and seize opportunities in the areas of human rights, gender equality, environmental justice and climate resilience.

“We are excited with this new partnership with SPC/RRRT focusing on the advancement of democracy and human rights, especially in relation to gender equality, environmental and climate change challenges. It fits well with the aim of the strategy: to contribute to sustainable development by working regionally, through mutual interaction between human rights, democracy, gender equality, environment and climate change,” said Anne-Charlotte Malm, Head of Development Cooperation, Regional Asia and the Pacific at the Embassy of Sweden, Bangkok.

The agreement will advance the core objectives of RRRT’s Business Plan until 2021, namely: to promote good governance and human rights standards; to end violence against women; and to support local action for sustainable development. This includes new areas of work, such as incorporating gender and human rights education into school curricula, and supporting faith-based action to end violence against women.

The agreement enables RRRT to support Pacific states to respond to new and emerging issues, such as the human rights impacts of climate change. By working within SPC, which supports member states with climate change adaptation and resilience initiatives, RRRT is able to ensure that the rights of those affected are front and centre of the climate change agenda.

“In the Pacific, climate change poses a threat to the realization of human rights and, if not addressed, create risks of reversed development gains and increased vulnerability for already poor people. We are convinced that this partnership is a good way for Sweden to contribute to address these challenges in the Pacific,” Malm said.

Sweden’s support further bolsters RRRT’s resources to integrate a people-centred, sustainable and equitable development across SPC’s scientific and technical programmes.

“Our work is about supporting regional action, and harnessing local energy to drive change and deliver sustainable development outcomes for all the peoples of the Pacific. This would be impossible without the support of outside development partners. Our new partnership with Sweden enables us to continue to realise this vision, and pursue a more complete human rights support agenda that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” said SPC RRRT Acting Director Nicol Cave.

RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the Pacific’s premier human rights programme. Through a team of regional advisors and Country Focal Officers based in SPC member states, RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support Pacific states to respond effectively to priority human rights areas such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change and equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.

About Us:
SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. It is an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members.

Useful link:
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency: http://www.sida.se/English/
SPC Regional Rights Resource Team: http://rrrt.spc.int


The Building Blocks of Human Rights, is a three minute whiteboard animation produced by SPC’s Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT).

In developing various modalities of providing technical assistance to SPC member countries, facilitating the communication of clear and concise message on human rights can be achieved with the use of audio-visual productions.

This animation is part of a package of tools to communicate a simple but clear understanding of what are our human rights and the various human rights laws that detail out specific rights and state obligations in relation to those rights.


A Rights Based Approach is a three-minute whiteboard animation produced by SPC’s Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT).

In developing various modalities of providing technical assistance to SPC member countries, facilitating the communication of clear and concise message on human rights can be achieved with the use of audio-visual productions.

This animation is part of a package of tools to communicate a simple but a clear understanding of the core elements of a human

 

The Domestic violence and Family Protection Bill, recently passed by the Nauru Parliament, will provide enforceable court orders to protect people who experience family violence.
The Family Health and Support Study on violence against women in Nauru in 2014 revealed 48% of women in intimate partner relationships have experienced physical and or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.
The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT) welcomed the passage of this Bill on 27 April and will now focus on supporting the implementation of the new law.
“Congratulations to the Nauru Parliament on the passage of its Domestic Violence and Family Protection Bill. This is a great achievement for the people of Nauru and we are looking forward to sharing good practices on the implementation of the new Acts by Solomon Islands and  Nauru,” RRRT Board member and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children & Family Affairs in Solomon Islands, Ethel Sigimanu, said.
“On behalf of the people of Nauru, I sincerely thank all those, who have been instrumental in the success of Nauru’s Domestic Violence and Family Protection Act.  This has happened with the dedication and assistance of our Regional Partners, notably SPC’s RRRT, whose dedication to the realization of the Act has been as real and as constant as our own determination and I want to thank our Government, who has been a key stakeholder in helping our women to achieve this milestone in ensuring that our laws not only protect and safeguard us but also educates and trains us all as a nation to become better parents, partners, and most of all to become better individuals,” Nauru’s Minister for Home Affairs, Honorable Charmaine Scotty said.
Upon the request of the Nauru Government, RRRT provided technical assistance in the drafting of the domestic violence bill, conducting consultations with judges, magistrates, lawyers, leaders, police, health, education and community liaison officers that had specific roles within in the Bill.
The purpose of the consultations were to raise awareness of the contents of the draft bill, capture opinions of all stakeholders, and integrate consultation feedback into the draft document.
Lessons from the implementation of domestic violence laws in the Pacific and internationally were also considered in the drafting of the Bill.
RRRT acknowledges the generous support of the Government of Australia and the European Union in providing financial support for the organisation of the consultations involved.

Alongside Nauru, Fiji, Kosrae State in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have all passed Family Protection legislation.

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582
Useful link:
SPC Regional Rights Resource Team

 

Nadi, Fiji- The Pacific Community (SPC) has this week launched a practical guide that will assist Pacific governments in their human rights treaties reporting.

This is the first such document of its kind on human rights reporting under the core human rights treaties in the Pacific.

The Pacific Guide to Statistical Indicators for Human Rights Reporting proposes a set of indicators that are contextually relevant and meaningful for the region, acknowledging the unique challenges and opportunities that Pacific Island countries experience in data collection, national institutions and resources.

Produced by SPC’s Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT) with funding support from the European Union and the Government of Australia, the guide emerged from, and is informed by two regional workshops held in Nadi, Fiji in 2014 and 2016, with statisticians from the national statistics offices and government focal points on human rights and gender.

The first workshop shared good practices and lessons learned on human rights and gender statistics, and reflected the reality of challenges the region faces in collecting adequate and reliable data, as well as in interpreting available data. It was held in partnership between UN Statistics Division from New York, SPC Statistics Division, SPC Gender Division and SPC RRRT.

Based on these discussions, a set of core indicators were identified and the guide developed. The second workshop validated the indicators contained in the guide, identified any gaps and suggested improvements.

The guide sets out practical information on feasible and aspirational human rights indicators, based on reliable data that can be systematically collected. It also shows how to interpret the data collected under each indicator for reporting.

“The Pacific Guide to Statistical Indicators for Human Rights Reporting is a crucial tool that will assist our governments in addressing the specific articles under the core treaties they are reporting on,” RRRT Senior Human Rights Adviser, Romulo Nayacalevu, said.

“This tool is the result of SPC working with our governments for many years around human rights reporting and responding both to the governments on the need for such tools to guide the reporting exercise as well as the treaty body committee’s recommendations and concerns around lack of crucial information or data around the various articles,” Mr Nayacalevu said.

Statistical indicators are also provided, article-wise, for five core human rights treaties: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), The Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The guide will assist coordinating bodies within Pacific Island governments responsible for preparing initial and periodic reports on the country’s progress on implementation of ratified treaties, as well as those overseeing the implementation of national human rights action plans.

Human rights and gender focal persons will have a reference point for determining the key data they will need to work with national statistics offices in collecting and analysing for these purposes.

It will also help national statistics offices to better understand how the statistical data they collect, analyse and provide feeds into human rights reporting.

The publication is available on the RRRT website at http://rrrt.spc.int/publications-media/publications/item/754-pacific-guide-to-statistical-indicators-for-human-rights-reporting

Media contact:
Onorina Saukelo   RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582 
About SPC:
SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. It is an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members.
Useful link: SPC Regional Rights Resource Team
 
 

 

Capture2The Pacific Guide to Statistical Indicators for Human Rights Reporting is the first such document of its kind on human rights reporting under the core human rights treaties in the Pacific.

It proposes a set of indicators that are contextually relevant and meaningful for the region, acknowledging the unique challenges and opportunities that Pacific Island countries experience in data collection, national institutions and resources.

The guide is meant to assist coordinating bodies within Pacific Island governments responsible for preparing initial and periodic reports on the country’s progress on implementation of ratified treaties, as well as those overseeing the implementation of national human rights action plans. The guide will also help national statistics offices to better understand how the statistical data they collect, analyse and provide feeds into human rights reporting.

 

 



SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team receives core funding from the Australian Government and additional project support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pacific Leadership Programme (PLP), European Union (EU) and the German Development Bank (KfW).