Thirty island court justices from island courts throughout Vanuatu came together in Port Vila at the end of August to attend  a consultation on human rights organised the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT).

Speaking at the opening of the consultation, Chief Justice of Vanuatu, Vincent Lunabek challenged the island court justices to grasp the concepts of human rights and apply the relevant concepts to their work to ensure justice for all through the local courts.

“People come to the island courts with high expectations of fair judgments and equality. As island court justices, you need to put aside your chiefly titles or other titles. Do not let your traditional titles influence your work. You need to come down to the level of your people and consider their human rights when dealing with their cases to ensure justice for everyone” Chief Justice, Lunabek said.

With increased knowledge of human rights, the justices will take into consideration the different needs or situations of all citizens – men, women, children and persons with disability – when administering a case. This will ensure that justice prevails at all times in the courts.

“I see there are more male justices than female justices in the room. Whether you are a male or a female, you have the same power and responsibilities as justices of the island courts in Vanuatu” Chief Justice Lunabek added.

Vanuatu has a total of around 300 Island court lay justices serving 10 established island courts through-out the country. It is the most accessible court of the country. The island courts deal with both minor civil and criminal matters with majority of cases being child maintenance claims. In addition, land disputes and family related disputes such as domestic violence including other civil and criminal matters are also dealt with at the island courts.

Vanuatu is a State Party to five human rights conventions: the Convention Against Torture, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Under these conventions, Vanuatu is required to 'respect, protect and fulfil' human rights by taking positive action that protects the rights of its citizens.

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.

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Funafuti, Tuvalu – Fifty-four year old Amberoti Nikora of Kiribati is a human rights advocate, a former Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant of the Kiribati Government; and now the Country Focal Officer for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Human Rights Progamme in Kiribati.

With his wealth of knowledge in parliamentary mechanisms and human rights, Mr Nikora was in Tuvalu last week sharing his experiences with newly elected members of Tuvalu’s parliament as an exchange organised by SPC through its Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), with assistance from the European Union (EU) and Australian Government.

“I was a member of parliament in Kiribati for 20 years and at the beginning of my term as an MP, I wasn’t confident because of my limited understanding of parliamentary processes. It took time and perseverance for me to become an active voice for my people in parliament. My three years of human rights work with SPC has also broadened my knowledge in human rights advocacy. I am honoured to be part of this great exchange this week to share my experiences with Tuvalu MPs,” Mr Nikora said.

Mr Nikora stressed that parliaments are the highest decision and law making institutions in our countries and it is important that elected members understand their role as guardians of human rights for their people.

“Without the right understanding of the parliamentary processes, the roles and responsibilities of MPs, it will be difficult to confidently represent the interests of constituents in any parliament,” Mr Nikora said.

The exchange is part of the induction seminar for Tuvalu’s parliament organised and supported by the United National Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the New Zealand House of Representatives, the Parliament of Victoria and SPC.

Tuvalu held its general elections in March 2015 that resulted in the formation of a new Government in April 2015.

The induction seminar briefed and guided the newly elected MPs with knowledge on their roles and responsibilities, with SPC RRRT providing technical assistance on human rights and good governance. 

Honourble Speaker Tausi of the Parliament of Tuvalu invited RRRT to address all Parliamentarians following the success of a regional MPs Human Rights Consultation hosted by SPC which he attended in Fiji earlier this year.

The SPC RRRT Programme receives core funding from the Australian Government and additional funding from various donors including the EU. With the EU Pacific Islands Ratification & Implementation of Human Rights Treaties project implemented through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), RRRT works to support Forum Island countries to ratify, implement and report on core United Nations human rights conventions and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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 contacts

Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, [email protected], Phone: +679 9314174

Sanya Ruggiero, EU Press and Information Intern,, [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).