Professor David Robie, prominent journalist and Director of Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Centre, shared his experiences of human rights coverage in the region and stressed the role of the news media as watchdogs at a Human Rights and Media Forum held on 13–15 April 2016 in Nadi, Fiji. Professor Robie was chief guest.

Senior journalists and government communication officers from 13 Pacific countries participated in the forum, which had the theme: Enhancing a human rights-based approach to news reporting.  

“Human rights-oriented journalism is more focused on global rather than on selective reporting, with an emphasis on the vulnerable and empowerment for the affected and marginalised people - a voice for the voiceless,” Professor Robie said.

After the forum, he said “Journalists ought to be human rights defenders and bear witness to Pacific human rights violations. This forum was remarkably successful in providing the tools for a wide range of Pacific media people to bring accountability to offenders against human rights. I congratulate the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) on organising this important forum.”

The forum, which was supported by the Australian Government and European Union, released an outcomes document, reaffirming the vital role the media play and recognising the importance of strengthening news reporting, using a human rights-based approach. 

The outcomes document also acknowledges the importance of building a strong relationship between government communication personnel and journalists in sharing information and the roles they play in disseminating information. This document is being formatted into a poster for newsrooms in the region.

Romulo Nayacalevu, SPC’s Human Rights Adviser, said, “The media have a powerful voice in highlighting human rights issues and concerns, and this workshop provides the opportunity for journalists to dialogue on human rights and the media. SPC is delighted to work closely with the Pacific media to support their work in human rights reporting and we are excited about the outcomes document, which provides them with tips on how to do that.”

Giving a Pacific journalist’s perspective, Stanley Simpson, Managing Director of Business Melanesia Ltd, stressed that journalists in the region are frequently victims of human rights abuses while reporting on human rights in the region.

“Pacific journalists are often young and almost always broke, some have very little life experience, they are underpaid and overworked, they get threatened and intimidated regularly, and they endure a high pressure environment.

“People like to see journalists as instruments of change, but sometimes journalists just feel that they are being used by different sides with different agendas. So often they are going through the day-to-day slog of getting a newspaper or news bulletin out – it is easy to forget that they have the potential to influence change. It is important that this is addressed and journalists understand their roles as agents of change,” he said.

Belinda Kora, News Director of Papua New Guinea FM, agreed that journalists can influence change but their reporting must be responsible.

“I keep reminding my reporters that when it comes to reporting about human rights, if your story does not impact on the lives of victims or anyone else for that matter, you are only taking up space,” Ms Kora said.

She added that, importantly, journalists need to know their rights to be able to report responsibly. “How can we journalists in the region report effectively if we don’t know our rights?” Ms Kora asked.

The three-day forum strengthened media capacity in rights-based reporting to reflect the aspirations of Pacific Island communities for equality, development and social justice, said RRRT Team Leader, Nicol Cave.

Marian Kupu of Broadcom Broadcasting Limited, Tonga, said, “I found the three-day forum very encouraging because I learnt about my country’s human rights commitments and I see my role as a journalist to report on the gaps in order to encourage decision makers to prioritise and address the issues.”

‘Giving voice to the voiceless’ and ‘championing the rights of all peoples’ were key messages highlighted at the forum.

The forum was organised by the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) of the Pacific Community in partnership with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, the Pacific Islands News Association and the Journalism Programme of the University of the South Pacific.

Pacific journos

Nadi, Fiji – ‘Giving voice to the voiceless’ and ‘championing the rights of all peoples’ were key messages highlighted at the Human Rights and Media Forum attended this week by senior journalists and government communication officers from 13 Pacific countries.

Supported by the Australian Government and European Union, the Forum reaffirmed the vital role of media in highlighting human rights issues and the importance of news reporting with a human rights-based approach. 

The Forum highlighted the importance of building strong relationships between government communication personnel and journalists in sharing and disseminating information.  

An Outcomes Document will be presented in poster format for newsrooms in the region, providing practical tips for ‘rights-based reporting’.

“Human rights-oriented journalism is more focused on global instead of selective reporting, with an emphasis on the vulnerable and empowerment for the affected and marginalised people - a voice for the voiceless,” Professor David Robie, prominent journalist and Director of Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Pacific Centre, told  participants at the opening of the Forum.

Marian Kupu of Broadcom Broadcasting Limited Tonga said, “I find the three-day forum very encouraging because I have learnt about my country’s human rights commitments and I see my role as a journalist to report on the gaps to encourage decision makers to prioritise and address the issues.”

The Forum was organised by the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS), the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) Journalism.

The three-day forum has strengthened  media capacity in ‘rights-based reporting’ to reflect the aspirations of Pacific island communities for equality, development and social justice, SPC’s Team Leader of RRRT, Nicol Cave, said.

Media contact:

Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, [email protected] or +679 9314174.

Useful link: www.spc.int/rrrt/

Solo Act launch

By PM Press -

April 12, 2016

COMMENCEMENT OF THE FAMILY PROTECTION ACT

8 APRIL 2016

SOLOMON KITANO MENDANA HOTEL

 Keynote Address: The Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare

 As the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, I stand here a proud leader – proud that my Government of the Democratic Coalition for Change has demonstrated outstanding leadership in ensuring the Government’s policy for protection of Childrens rights to safety and protection from any form of violence can now be guaranteed through the application of the Family Protection Act 2014, which we are here to launch and implement from hereon.

As a Father and a Grandfather, I am also truly honoured that my children and grandchildren are assured of their safety and protection from violence.

A journey, which found its roots in the evidence provided by the Family Health and Safety Study, which was adopted by Government in 2009, has come to fruition. Solomon Islands not only has a new law that ensures the safety and protection of the family from domestic violence, but that as of 1st April 2016, the Family Protection Act 2014 has commenced and is now in force.

It is therefore my utmost pleasure to commend all of you who have come to participate in this event, which marks the official announcement of the commencement of the Family Protection Act.

I note the presence of my Ministers and as well as that of the Provincial Premiers who have joined us today to share our honourable achievement and to commit themselves to the implementation of the Act.

No culture is immune from domestic violence. In the same way, we can say that no community is immune to domestic violence; in the same we can say that no government or church organization or whatever organization by itself is immune to violence.  What really matters is the leadership and the culture we breed in these organizations – if they are weak then the chances of violence becoming a common thing, becomes a worrying reality.

It therefore follows that unless we the leaders of these communities and organizations are prepared to take a bold stand to say “No to Violence”, the enforcement of the Act will follow the trend many other pieces of legislation have also found themselves in the past – they remain mere legal instruments useful only to the shelves, which also have become their home over the years.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

To have the Family Protection Act in its legal form is an incredible milestone and a key achievement by my Government.

The fundamental purpose of the Act is to ensure that all homes and communities are peaceful and safe for all members of the family; by making certain that there is adequate protection for affected family members and to facilitate enforcement, and ensure sustainability of such protection over time.

The Act not only defines domestic violence but also makes domestic violence an offence that is punishable by fine or a prison sentence. What we normally regard as a private matter is now no longer the case.

The Family Protection Act ensures that perpetrators face the full force of the law if they decide to unleash their wrath on any member of the family, or abuse a family member through other forms of violence.

The Act provides preventative measures so that violent behaviour and violent persons can be stopped in their tracks, before they have the chance to inflict further harm on the innocent and vulnerable members of their families.

The Act is innovative in that it does not create new institutions or create new powers. Rather, the Act enhances current powers of the Police, current powers of the Courts and current duties of stakeholders that have a mandate to stop domestic violence and articulates them so that they are accessible for all citizens and visitors of this country.

 Ladies and gentlemen,

The Family Protection Act has gone through a long consultation and challenging process at the Bill stage. This was to ensure that it meets the requirements of our international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as those requirements that are suitable to the Solomon Islands context. As such, the Act takes into account the available resources and skills in the community, the existing formal justice system, and the religious and customary practices of our people. Development of the Family Protection Act has also ensured that human rights and gender perspectives dictate its design and purpose.

On this note, it is my utmost pleasure to commend the key role played by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Police and National Security in leading the process towards the passage and the commencement of the Family Protection Act.

I should also applaud the SPC Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Government of Australia through DFAT for providing the technical expertise and guidance in the development and design of the Act.

To the FPA Legislative Working Group, I salute you for your unwavering support in ensuring that Government fulfils its policy obligation to put in place a law on domestic violence, as well as for making sure that the Family Protection Act effectively protects family members from violence.

It would be remiss of me not to make mention of the national and provincial government bodies, development partners, members of the civil society, and the many groups and individuals who have been consulted far and wide throughout Solomon Islands and abroad and whose voice the Act resonates both in its design, effect and purpose.

Beyond that, I should also acknowledge previous governments for taking the bold step in making certain that a sensitively charged subject is given the recognition it deserves.

Without the Family Health and Safety Study, National Policy on Eliminating Violence against Women, the reform undertaken by the Law Reform Commission on sexual violence, what we have come to celebrate today may still be a long way from getting to this stage. Your vision, efforts, support and contributions have paid off. Solomon Islanders have spoken and we have responded to that call. Well done!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we all know, family violence stands in direct contradiction to our affirmation as a society that we are a peace loving people and that the unity of the family is central to our lives.

The evidence, which stares us in the face from various researches, statistics and daily experiences paint a very different picture. Two out of every 3 women in Solomon Islands are affected by violence in the home mostly by people they look up to, love and trust.

According to the Family Health and Safety Study, women who have experienced intimate partner violence are more likely to have children who are also abused than those who have not experienced partner violence. Far too often, crimes go unpunished and perpetrators walk free. This is unacceptable and we should not condone it as “normal run nomoa”. Violence in the home must be stopped! Victims must be protected! Perpetrators must be punished!

As a society, we have for too long tolerated, excused and justified domestic violence. This means that for a lot of people, accepting violence in the family is entrenched in them.

There is need for awareness at all levels of our Solomon Islands community to help our people understand that domestic violence is harmful for the community, and that its consequences are intergenerational. Now that the Family Protection Advisory Council has been set up, I am sure it will see to it that implementation of the Act is constantly monitored and that reporting to Government and to Parliament on progress is done in a timely and efficient manner.

No one sector can adequately address domestic violence or family violence for that matter. The causes and consequences of domestic violence come to us in different colours, shapes and sizes and are complex in their manifestations.

To that effect, I cannot over emphasize the critical importance of working together to ensure that the Act is fully implemented and serves its purpose.

All of our efforts put together to address this scourge must be the way to go. We have proven that together we can do it. The development of this Act has been a result of collaborations and partnerships. Its completion has been possible through sheer stamina and drive by our many partners and individuals working collectively.

By way of closing, let me re-affirm my government’s commitment to strengthening and supporting gender equality through the elimination of gender based violence and child abuse. The reason is simple.

Domestic violence is a human rights problem; it affects the personal security of persons, the right to life, and the right to lead full lives free from oppression. Women and girls suffer the most from domestic violence; and therefore to be successful in the application of this Act; we must recognise that gender equality and non-discrimination are essential elements for a united, progressive and peaceful co-existence in our society.

Similarly, my Government is committed to strengthening the National Judicial and Legal System and Apparatus in the Country. Effective enforcement of the Family Protection Act is dependent on these key areas being reinforced by government through relevant ministries including the key ministries responsible for the Act.

I am also pleased to say that the FPA does not sit in isolation of other national legislation that is now enforced such as the Police Act. The Government’s legal reform programme will result in laws that compliment the functions of the Family Protection Act. As I speak, the Parliamentary Bills and Legislative Committee is now in the process of scrutinizing the Bill on Sexual Offences in the Penal Code. Also the Child and Family Welfare Bill is now in the completion stage. There is a strong likelihood that both Bills will be tabled before Parliament in its coming sitting in April . Enforcement of these laws guarantee a high success rate in the implementation of the Family Protection Act. I am proud to be part of this event as I’m sure many of you are as well. We are all members of a family unit and a large extended family.

Let us rise up and stand with the Family Protection Act by encouraging our family members and those in our community to report any incident of abuse against them or a family member.

At the end of the day, the Act only kicks in when a case is being reported. We can carve out and enjoy the best systems in the world but if we are not willing to report cases of abuse, the church, custom or state will not be able to deal with you. It is my fervent hope that implementation of the Family Protection Act will be supported in every way possible and that we will use the Act to stand for our rights so as to be assured of a present and a future that is peaceful, secure and prosperous.

Thank you one and all!

http://pmpresssecretariat.com/2016/04/12/commencement-family-protection-act-keynote-address-prime-minister-hon-manasseh-sogavare/

 

 

JOINT MEDIA ALERT

Nadi, Fiji - ‘Giving voice to the voiceless’ and ‘championing the rights of all peoples’ will be among the key messages highlighted at a regional human rights and media forum, in Nadi, Fiji, this week for senior journalists and government communication officers from 13 Pacific countries.

This event which was postponed in late February due to tropical cyclone Winston, will now be held from 13-15 April.

The Enhancing a Human Rights-based Approach to News Reporting Forum is organised by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in partnership with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS), the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) Journalism Programme at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel.

The event is supported by the Australian Government and the European Union.

The event aims to strengthen media capacity in ‘rights-based reporting’ to reflect the realities and aspirations of Pacific island communities for equality, development and social justice.

Prominent journalist and Director of Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Pacific Centre, Professor David Robie will be chief guest at the event and will share his experiences of human rights coverage in the region.

RRRT is the Pacific Community’s human rights program, working to build a rights-based culture, and assisting nation states to commit to and observe international human rights standards.

MEDIA ACCESS: Media are invited to cover the event from 9am to 4.30pm for the duration of the forum. The twitter hashtag for the forum is #PacMedia4HR.

Media contact:

Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, [email protected] or +679 9314174.

Useful link: www.spc.int/rrrt/

media alert logos

 

Sols justice sector consultations

Honiara, Solomon Islands – Justice-sector providers in Solomon Islands are better informed and prepared to address domestic violence through the country’s Family Protection Act that is expected to come into force in the first half of 2016.

This follows consultations staged last week by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, involving lawyers, members of the judiciary, police, social and health workers. 

The consultations, led by SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), were supported by the Australian Government and UN Women and examined strategies to strengthen the existing systems to support the prevention and protection measures against domestic violence set out in the Act.  

Practical suggestions on coordinated responses, such as strengthening the coordination between the courts and frontline service providers in sharing information to tackle domestic violence cases, emerged as the key players deliberated their roles in the implementation of the Act.

Permanent Secretary of Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Ethel Sigimanu, said the country’s Family Protection Act reflects the government’s commitment to end violence in the home. 

“The Act provides hope for peace in homes, communities and our country. There was much rejoicing when it was passed, and the time has now come for us to again put our minds together and discuss strategies on how we’re going to implement the Act,” Ms Sigimanu said.

The Act defines and criminalizes domestic violence. It prescribes police duties in responding to domestic violence and allows family members – men and women and those who are defined as family members in the Act – to apply for protection orders from the Court.

The Act also recognises that domestic violence is best addressed through a coordinated legal and social response.

For police officer Allan Supa, the consultation last week broadened his understanding of human rights and the new legislation.  

“I plan to assist the Community Policing Team, a unit within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, to carry out awareness programmes in the communities.”

A registered nurse with the Honiara City Council Clinic, Esther Nevenga, is excited about the opportunity.

“I will be able to assist clients that are facing domestic violence issues and also refer them to supporting centres like the police, Christian Care Center, Social Welfare and Family Support Centre in Honiara. I will also give more awareness to the communities in and around my clinic catchment on what is domestic violence,” Ms Nevenga said.

SPC’s support to the Solomon Islands Family Protection Act commenced as far back as 2009 with trainings for Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs staff, the placement of a staff within the Ministry to support the initial work on the ground in 2009 to 2012, the set-up 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 finally passed.

SPC supports all 22 Pacific Island member countries and territories in building a culture of human rights, and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards.

Media contact:

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

Useful link: www.spc.int/rrrt/

IWD2016

Leadership, wage gaps, safety, health and care work are five areas of gender disparity in the Pacific islands region that require innovative action given their profound effects on societies and individuals.

That is the message from the Pacific Community (SPC) as the region marks International Women’s Day today (8 March).

In line with the international theme for the day “Pledge for Parity”, SPC is calling for greater debate on ways of closing gender gaps in the Pacific and concrete ways of addressing them.

Despite critical advances, Pacific women and girls are still faced with cultural, social, economic and institutional barriers to developing their full potential, according to a progress report on implementing the Beijing Platform for Actionreleased by SPC in 2015.

“The Pacific Community is committed to ensuring that Pacific people benefit from sustainable economic development, are empowered and live long and healthy lives, regardless of their gender,” Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.

“Parity should be promoted at all levels and in all sectors, from public governance to changing nappies.

“From local contexts to the international arena, Pacific women and men are hard at work to shape more egalitarian societies and their efforts should continue to be acknowledged and supported through responsive policies and programmes.

“To see Hilda Heine’s election as President of the Republic of Marshall Islands, which represented the first election of a female head of state in a Pacific Island country, and the recent appointment of Fiame Naomi Mata'afa as Samoa's first female deputy prime minister is extremely encouraging.

“We also need to look at risks Pacific people face from a gender perspective, from non-communicable diseases to women’s unacceptable exposure to domestic violence or men’s vulnerability to road injuries, because those risks stem from the roles and attitudes expected from men and women,” Dr Tukuitonga added.

Data shows that diabetes prevalence in the Pacific Island region is higher among women than men, with the exception of Solomon Islands and Niue, according to the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

The region-wide epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is aggravating the burden of care that women already face, with evidence of women leaving the workforce to provide full-time care to family members.

The resulting social, cultural and economic impacts on the lives of women and their families are staggering, and are likely to challenge some of the progress made on women’s advancement.

The themes will be the focus of dialogues taking place today at SPC offices in Noumea and Suva.


Media contacts: Brigitte Leduc, SPC Gender Equality Adviser, [email protected]

Lauren Robinson   Acting Media Relations Team Leader, [email protected] or +679 337 9250

Useful link: Beijing +20: Review of progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action in Pacific Island countries and territories

Justice Pallaras in RMI

Majuro, Marshall Islands - South Australia's former director of public prosecutions and more recently justice of the High Court in the Solomon Islands, Justice Stephen Pallaras QC, last week (22-26 February) shared his experiences on taking leadership on domestic violence in the region with newly elected parliamentarians of the Republic of Marshall Islands.

The exchange, jointly supported by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was part of the Marshall Islands 2016 induction for its members of the Nitijela.

Speaking at the workshop, Justice Pallaras said, "During my time in court and the 40 years of practice in criminal law, I have heard all the excuses. Some will say it’s traditional, cultural; we’ve always done it this way. Some men have told me I have the right to beat my wife, have sex with her, I have paid the bride price and therefore she is mine. Other men have told me that they are entitled to have sex with my daughter because I am the man.”

In the Marshall Islands a Family Health and Safety Study (2014) found that 69 percent of women interviewed aged between 15 and 49 revealed they had experienced sexual and, or, physical violence. The majority of these incidents go unreported and of those that are reported, only a handful of cases end up in the courts.

Justice Pallaras implored the Marshallese parliamentarians to stand up and influence the direction of their nation.

“The scale and dimensions of this problem are not simply personal, they are financial, they are social, they are national, they are international and more, they are human. It will take people with leadership, vision and courage. Are you one of them?”

“Don’t tell me it’s not your problem. Don’t tell me it’s a women’s problem. It is a national problem about which the citizens are entitled to look to and expect their leaders to be working their absolute hardest to resolve, and moreover it is a human problem,” Justice Pallaras added.

According to Justice Pallaras, “The true measure of a country’s greatness is how we treat each other as human beings. A measure of a leader’s effectiveness, of a politician’s commitment and integrity, is not what they say. You will leave your mark on this nation, if you leave a mark, by what you do. Doing is a quantum leap from imaging.”

Australia’s Labour Federal Member, Hon. Alan Griffin, also joined the SPC and UNDP team to give support and advice to the Nitijela. 

SPC’s staff supported the Nitijela in understanding the treaties Marshall Islands has previously ratified, namely Convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 

SPC’s Deputy Director of the Social Development Division, Mark Atterton said, “this was an excellent intervention and it was clear that the members of the Nitijela, old and new, were outraged by the statistics we presented and committed to support local NGO Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) in their  service for a women’s counselling centre and sheltered accommodation.  This was a great outcome of the induction programme.”

SPC supports all 22 Pacific Island member countries and territories in building a culture of human rights, and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC’s work in this area is supported by the Government of Australia and European Union.

Media contact: Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, [email protected] or +679 330 5994.


TC-Winston OCHA

The Pacific Community (SPC) is offering its prayers and practical assistance as Fiji rallies to assess the scale of the impact of tropical cyclone Winston.

The Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, has written to Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, offering to deploy specialist SPC teams to assist the Fiji Government’s response, based on the nation’s needs in the wake of the powerful cyclone.

Dr Tukuitonga said the 390 SPC staff based in Fiji are believed to be safe, although the homes of several employees are known to be damaged, with one colleague in the Lautoka area losing the roof off his home.

SPC’s offices in Fiji – in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa – are closed today.

“As per our long-standing practice in this disaster-prone region, the Pacific Community stands ready to deploy disaster response teams and provide technical assistance as needed to reinforce the Fiji Government’s capacity,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the government and people of Fiji, including our many colleagues and development partners who are based there,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

While the extent of damage at SPC offices and project sites is yet to be determined, Dr Tukuitonga confirmed the globally-significant tissue culture collections at SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Suva are unaffected, as the building is intact and there is a back-up generator maintaining the temperature in the storage laboratories.


Media contacts: Julie Marks  Pacific Community Communications Director, [email protected] or +687 80 74 95
Lauren Robinson  Acting Media Relations Team Leader, [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +679 923 6432

NOTES TO EDITORS: The Pacific Community is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. We are an international development organisation owned and governed by our 26 country and territory members. We respond to our member governments’ requests for assistance following disasters and provide a range of ongoing services to improve disaster preparedness and response in the region. See www.spc.int.

Photo courtesy Fiji Government and UN OCHA: Fiji Government aerial survey of eastern islands following tropical cyclone Winston

Suva, Fiji

The Pacific Community (SPC) is pleased to welcome Adi Talanaivini Mafi to join its Regional Rights Resource Team in Suva for a six-month placement in 2016.

 Ms Mafi is an awardee of the 2016 Greg Urwin Awards presented this week to five outstanding Pacific Islanders.

A Legal Officer with Tonga’s Ministry of Justice, Ms. Mafi looks forward to the placement with SPC in March and hopes that her placement will contribute to her plans to advocate for the rights of children within the Tongan criminal justice system.

SPC’s Deputy Director of the Social Development Division, Mark Atterton said the Regional Rights Resource Team is delighted to support Ms Mafi build her capacity in her specific area of interest in human rights.

“We welcome Ms Mafi to SPC and look forward to working with her over the next six months.  Ms Mafi will be focussing on the rights of children in Tonga which will have a wider learning implication for all countries in the Pacific.  The rates of abuse of children in this region are alarming and it is often such pieces of research that can be a real catalyst for change and the protection of children.  We thank the Australian Government, the Pacific Leadership Program and the Urwin family for making this placement possible,” Mr Atterton added.

Ms Mafi is determined that the placement will assist her identify legal provisions that will eradicate legally mandated violence against children which she believes will raise awareness in Tonga on the long term harm that violence causes for children; violence within society and violence within the legal and criminal justice system. 

She also hopes that her placement will equip her to train relevant stakeholders, on identifying laws to be amended.

Ms. Mafi holds a Masters of Law from Queen Mary University of London, a Professional Diploma in Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Law both from the University of the South Pacific. She has been a Legal Officer with Tonga’s Ministry of Justice since 2012.

The Greg Urwin Awards are an Australian Government-Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) joint initiative.

The Awards were established in 2008 to honour the memory and the legacy of the former Secretary General of PIFS and a former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu, the late Mr Greg Urwin. 

The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms Margaret Twomey, yesterday hosted an event to congratulate the five new Greg Urwin awardees for 2016. 

Present were Mr Wylie Clarke, son of the late Greg Urwin and Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), to congratulate the Greg Urwin Awardees and wish them well for their placements.

SPC works to build a culture of human rights and assisting nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards.

Media contact

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

Useful link: www.spc.int/rrrt/

 

 

No one can take away your rights.



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).