Auckland, New Zealand – The latest collection of human rights case law from the Pacific Islands region for use by magistrates and judges was launched last night by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) at a regional consultation, ‘Human Rights and the Law’, under way in Auckland.  

Entitled the Pacific Human Rights Law Digest (Volume 5), the publication contains recent human rights case law from across the Pacific for use by legal practitioners, magistrates and judges, policy makers and advocates as precedents and tools for policy initiatives.

Speaking at the launch, South Australia's former director of public prosecutions and a former justice of the High Court in Solomon Islands, Justice Stephen Pallaras QC, said, “This human rights law digest is an excellent resource and revitalises all previous volumes with practical indexing”. 

“What this most welcome addition to the human rights resources does, is remind us that human rights have an input and a role to play in every aspect of civil law, employment law, environmental law and gender discrimination. No one can know all the answers to the questions these issues give rise to, but with this new digest we now all have somewhere to look to find them,” Justice Pallaras said.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary since SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team launched the first Pacific Human Rights Law Digest.

Designed for use by Pacific law students, lawyers, magistrates, judges and human rights advocates, this collection of analysed, recent human rights case law can be used as precedents in the courts, and as tools for policy initiatives.

SPC is grateful to the Australian Government for its funding support, without which this publication would not have been possible.

Invited guests at the launch included former New Zealand parliamentarian, Sir Pita Sharples, and former Chief Commissioner of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and current Director at the Faculty of Law of Auckland University’s Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice, Rosslyn Noonan. Ms Noonan recently joined the external board of SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team, replacing the chairwoman of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Fran Wilde, who has stepped down from the board after six years of dedicated service.

The Pacific Human Rights Law Digest will also be a valuable resource for those outside the Pacific region who are interested in the development of human rights in this region.

For those without access to the Internet, the publication provides a convenient source of contemporary case law. For those with internet access, the digest also serves as an inventory of the most significant human rights decisions to be found on the invaluable Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute website (, and on other electronic sources outside of the Pacific region. It is therefore not just a compilation or compendium of cases with headnotes, as commonly found in law reports, but an analysed summary of judgments, highlighting significant human rights issues, and is therefore also a useful reference for human rights activists and other stakeholders.

The Pacific Human Rights Law Digest Volume 5 can be downloaded from theSPC website:

SPC has a vast network of local-level human rights defenders who are increasingly using the law as a tool for change in the areas of governance and human rights. The experience of this network of human rights actors has now been reflected in the Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights, which is jointly sponsored by SPC and the University of the South Pacific, and is offered through 12 of the university’s campuses in the Pacific region.

SPC is the principal scientific and technical agency supporting development in the Pacific Island region. It works to build a human rights culture that enhances the rule of law and democracy in the Pacific region. Promoting the use of human rights standards in law, practice and policy is part of SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team’s broad, long-term strategy for achieving that goal.

Media contact

Jilda Shem   SPC Communications Officer – Regional Rights Resource Team, [email protected] or +679 9314174


Auckland, New Zealand – A Pacific regional consultation on ‘Human Rights and the Law’ for senior magistrates and judges from the Pacific opens today in Auckland, New Zealand.

Organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the consultation gathers together 25 senior magistrates from 15 Pacific Island countries to discuss experiences around the application of human rights in courts around the region.

Speaking at the opening today South Australia's former director of public prosecutions and more recently justice of the High Court in the Solomon Islands, Justice Stephen Pallaras QC, said "I would estimate that more than 90% of the work I did over my last two years on the bench involved serious sexual crime. It was a tragic parade of damaged women and children in the one hand and a rogues gallery of stupid, misigynistic, pathetic males on the other."

Justice Pallaras added that "To me, it was obvious that there is a real and urgent need for change and here I was (in Solomon Islands) having being put into the position of enormous authority and so given the opportunity (as all of you have) to do something about this dreadful situation. I had two choices. I could just shake my head and say how terrible it all is and hope that something would be done or I could at least try and do something about it, try at least to do some good and try at least to make a difference. I determined to try".

Key themes of the three-day event include access to justice, implementation of domestic violence laws and regulations, and family law, and linkages to good governance and development.

”This is an important forum because it provides a vibrant space for judicial decision makers to exchange their experiences and knowledge on the application of human rights in courts,” Deputy-Director of SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Mark Atterton, said.

Guest speakers at the consultation this week include Justice Stephen Pallaras QC, Chief Justice of Nauru, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, and former Fiji Family Law Court Judge Madam Mere Pulea.

Human rights covers many aspects of our daily lives, including rights to food, shelter, education, health, protection, freedom of expression and many more.

”We trust this consultation will strengthen the developing jurisprudence in the Pacific in the area of human rights by encouraging the use of human rights principles in human rights conventions, in Pacific courts ,” Mr Atterton added.

SPC, through its Regional Rights Resource team, assists governments and civil society organisations in Pacific Island countries and territories to increase the observance of all human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural) and governance standards to enhance development in the Pacific. SPC hosts annual trainings on human rights for a range of stakeholders including Members of Parliament, judges and magistrates, lawyers, civil servants and civil society groups.

The Senior Magistrates consultation in New Zealand this week is supported by the Australian Government and the European Union.

Media contacts

Jilda Shem    Communications Officer – Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), [email protected] or +679 9314174.

Useful link:

In recognizing the significant role of police in respecting, promoting and protecting the rights of all citizens, the Fiji Police Force is taking steps to build a culture of respect for human rights within its force.

Thirty-five members of the Fiji Police Force (Sergeants, Corporals and Constables) are at a human rights training workshop in Suva. The training event is convened with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT)and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Suva.

“Acting under the authority of the law, police officers may limit the rights of people who are (for example) suspected of committing a crime through arrest, detention, and investigation of crime, searches & other police activities. It is important for police officers to know how far they can go in limiting rights of people when dealing with them.” Fiji Deputy Commissioner of Police Isikeli Ligairi said.

Deputy Commissioner Ligairi added that at the end of the day, ‘we have to recognize that human rights is a fundamental building block for democracy and we have to support the development of a police force in Fiji that is accountable, transparent, gender aware and supportive of human rights.’

A key objective of the training, which is being implemented by RRRT and OHCHR, is to support the Fiji Police Force members to fulfil their duties in accordance with international human rights standards for policing, and in compliance with domestic legislative framework.

This is the first in a series of training workshops that will happen across all divisions within the Fiji Police Force.


For further information and media requests, please contact:

Ms Ana Naisoro, Fiji Police Media Liaison Officer, tel: 3348107 / 9905999 email:[email protected]

2013 Human Rights Awards 28

The 2014 Human Rights Awards were organised at the national level in 6 Pacific Island countries. Below are the awardees.


Rikiaua Takeke

Special recognition for highlighting the right to religion through the documentation of Catechist Tikarerei Takirua’s life story of service to the people of Kiribati.

Selaina Tekonnang

Special recognition for highlighting the right to marriage and to be free from violence through poetry.

Wayne Uan

Special recognition for highlighting the right to participate in any community activities without distinction of any kind such as sex, colour, race, religion or other status.


Aoga Fiamalamalama

Special recognition for promoting the right of a child to education in Samoa, including children with disabilities, through role play.

Deborah Jacinta Leu’o

Special recognition for promoting human rights in Samoa through creative drawing.

Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo

Special recognition for highlighting the rights of persons with disabilities through the documentation of her personal life story.

Hemiriah Ioane

Special recognition for highlighting the right to education through creative writing.

Nu’ufou Isaia

Special recognition for promoting the right to education for children with disabilities in Samoa, through visual art.

Piu Maneralokina Filipo

Special recognition for highlighting human rights through creative writing.

Samoa Fa’afafine Association

In recognition of the contribution to the promotion of the human rights of marginalised groups, including Fa’afafine and LGBTI groups in Samoa.

Samoa National Youth Council

Special recognition for promoting the right to be heard and of freedom of expression in Samoa through audio visual arts.

Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust

Contribution to advancing the right to freedom from discrimination of Samoan deportees rehabilitating in the community and in community outreach programmes.

Sinalaua Papatoetoe Tupolo

Special recognition for highlighting the right to education, respect and equality through the documentation of her personal life story.

Taiese Taiese

Special recognition for highlighting the right of children to social protection through creative writing.

Tiapapata Art Centre

Special recognition for advancing the right to develop life skills and the right to participate in cultural life, through the Breakthrough initiative, aimed at supporting people affected by trauma and abuse.


Br. Gorge Van Der Sant

Special recognition for contribution to advancing the right to education for young persons with disabilities in Solomon Islands.

Community Based Rehabilitation Unit

Special recognition for contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in Solomon Islands.


Women and Children Crisis Centre

Special recognition for advancing the rights of girls in Tonga to be free from domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Talitha Girls

Special recognition for highlighting the rights of single mothers to education and to be respected with equal opportunity.

Elenga Mailangi

Special recognition for highlighting the right to employment and family support in Tonga.


Fusi Alofa Association

Special Recognition for contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in Tuvalu.

Talafai Youth Group

Special recognition for contribution to advancing the rights of children to education through support to pre-school building construction on the island of Nanumago, Tuvalu.


Since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, governments have measured their progress against the set of commitments and principles they agreed on at the meeting.

Twenty years on, this set of principles, known as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, is still the most comprehensive and ambitious framework for achieving equality between men and women in all aspects of life.

On international human rights day in 2014, the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, signed the Te Rau n Te Mwenga Act into law.

Translated, this means family peace, but the process leading to the creation of the legislation was conceivably less than peaceful and often confrontational. However, the legislation is a progressive and modern law of its time, confronting entrenched behaviours and attitudes around domestic violence.

Suva, Fiji – While Pacific Community governments and regional organisations gather in Samoa this week for the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable, a Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) delegation is in Switzerland highlighting the human rights impacts of climate change at a United Nations review.

The RMI Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Tony A. deBrum, has yesterday presented the country’s performance in protecting and promoting human rights to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has supported RMI in drafting its Universal Periodic Review report – the country’s second – and hosted a mock session last month to prepare their delegation.

In his opening statement to the 22nd session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Minister deBrum said that RMI has made significant strides since its first review in 2010, but that the country continues to face challenges associated with climate change.

“We’re starting to see these [climate change] impacts in our local communities, such as a recent drought which affected a quarter of our nation and necessitated the involvement of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,” Minister deBrum said. 

“Unusually strong king tides and coastal flooding have devastated local communities. While natural events have always occurred in small islands, it is irrefutable that there are climate drivers.

“The principle, that every nation commits to action, large and small, rich and poor, has helped influence how multiple countries work together on this issue. We’re also working very hard to secure a strong and practical post-2020 climate agreement in Paris,” the Minister said.

The Universal Period Review process is a key mechanism which allows all UN Member States to declare the actions they have taken to improve human rights in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

Through its Regional Rights Resource Team, SPC is this year also providing technical assistance to governments and civil society groups in Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, in preparation for their respective universal periodic reviews.

Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa will be reviewed before the Human Rights Council in 2016, and will be the final Pacific Island states to be reviewed under the Second Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (2012–2016).

RMI has been outspoken in seeking to address the human rights dimension of climate change, including in early 2009, when the country told the UN Human Rights Council that climate risks would seriously threaten nearly every core human right, including the right to statehood. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the RMI perspective on maximising new climate financing will be presented at an SPC-hosted side event at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Apia by the Acting Director of the RMI office of Environmental Policy and Planning Coordination, Ywao Elanzo.   

The RMI delegation has thanked SPC, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, their bilateral partners and Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms Nazhat Shameem Khan, and her team for their assistance with the submission of RMI’s 2nd State Report.

With funding from the Government of Australia and Kingdom of the Netherlands, SPC supports all 22 Pacific Island countries and territories in building a culture of human rights, and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. See

Media contact:

Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, +679 330 5994, [email protected].

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).