30 NOVEMBER 2010 AUCKLAND (RRRT)
In opening the Pacific Regional Lawyers' Consultation on Human Rights in Auckland, New Zealand Monday, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, reminded the group of Pacific lawyers of their role as 'the guardians of international human rights law'. Tuiloma Slade stated, "By the nature of their profession, lawyers have a place of leadership and an essential and fundamental role in the protection of human rights."
The consultation on advocacy and litigation skills in human rights, organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), is being attended by 22 lawyers representing 11 Pacific countries. The group includes government legal officers, lawyers in private practice as well as in civil society organisations, and other legal professionals. The consultation will also serve as a meeting venue for the Pacific Human Rights Legal Network.
In his address to the meeting, Mr Tuiloma Slade also reminded the lawyers of their critical role in the maintenance of the rule of law – the fundamental cornerstone of democracy which is in turn a necessary element for the peaceful development of Pacific nations.
He commented on the universality of human rights –stating that while we must recognise the diversity of Pacific culture, human rights 'belong to all cultures, and are intrinsic to all nations. They are not open to optional choices, for one cannot pick and choose among rights; rather we are bound by all.'
The four-day consultation will focus on building skills in human rights litigation and advocacy through the examination of current human rights issues in the Pacific, including gender-based violence, discrimination against those living with HIV and emerging human rights issues including human trafficking.
Kiribati consultation participant, Kiata Kabure, stated,
'Our countries have ratified some of these international human rights conventions; the challenge for us is to remind our governments to keep those commitments and to make sure that these human rights commitments become national laws.'
The consultation will also look at the development of a regional human rights mechanism for the Pacific. The Pacific is one of two regions in the world without a regional human rights mechanism and Pacific island nations are currently without functioning national human rights commissions that are internationally recognised...PNS (ENDS)
For further information, please contact Lionel Aingimea, Senior Trainer SPC / RRRT at [email protected] or +(64) 9 377 0349, Copthorne Hotel, Harbour City, Auckland, New Zealand.