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:

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).