Friday 2 May 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Suva, Fiji
Twenty-six year old Simione Seruvatu of Fiji is one of 56 newly graduated lawyers from the University of the South Pacific (USP), currently completing a six-month Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP) at the Laucala campus in Suva, Fiji.
The Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC RRRT), a module coordinator and instructor for PDLP, facilitates the two-week Family Law and Human Rights Skills and Practice module (LWD060) by designing content, training and assessing students twice a year when the Diploma is offered by USP.
'The two-week intensive training by RRRT from 14–25 April has broadened my perspective on various issues, particularly the practical application of the law. What stood out for me is the notion of equality before the law and the right to equal protection when dealing with cases such as domestic violence in our Pacific communities,' said Simione.
He was inspired by his Papua New Guinean mother to study law and be a voice for the people.
'I look forward to going away from here to the field, where I can educate people about their rights and support their access to justice,' Simione added.
Another student, Mohini Pillai, a mother of three who began her career in the legal field 24 years ago as a secretary in a law firm in Ba, Fiji, and later as a law clerk, is ever grateful for the cases and arguments shared during the family law weeks.
'I realised that the cases presented during the training as exercises or assignment topics are real life scenarios to prepare us for the real world of legal practice. The topic of climate change and human rights is also new subject matter highlighted in the training. This is very relevant to the Pacific context and I am so grateful to RRRT for introducing me to this topic and many other human rights issues,' Mrs Pillai said.
The Family Law and Human Rights module includes skills and practice. It covers ethical and professional considerations, managerial issues and customary matters relevant to the practice of family law and human rights in Pacific jurisdictions. SPC RRRT has been delivering the module for 14 years and composes the content, based on international best practice standards and principles and on experience from throughout the Pacific. The strategy is to introduce lawyers to be aware of human rights, ensuring that basic human rights are considered in their work in the future, whether in government, private practice or in civil society organisations. Topics covered also include human rights and HIV, sexual and reproductive health rights and domestic violence. These topics change as new human rights issues emerge in the region.
Partners who support SPC RRRT in facilitating some key sessions of human rights and family law include private law firms, non-governmental organisations and UN agencies.
SPC RRRT is the pioneer of human rights training in the Pacific region, working to build a culture of human rights and assisting nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC RRRT receives core funding from Australian Aid.
For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected].