SPC launches latest collection of Pacific human rights cases

Launch of Volume 4 of the Pacific Human Rights Law Digest Launch of Volume 4 of the Pacific Human Rights Law Digest

Tuesday 8 October 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi, Fiji

A collection of recent Pacific human rights cases has been compiled in the fourth volume of the Pacific Human Rights Law Digest. The publicationwas launched this week by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) at the Pacific Lawyers Consultation on Human Rights in Nadi, Fiji.

Speaking at the launch, Peter Creighton, SPC RRRT’s resident consultant and editor of the publication, highlighted the inclusion of a section on climate change, a relatively new and critical issue for the Pacific region.

‘Pacific courts are often struggling with antiquated legislation when dealing with issues such as habitat destruction, migration, land tenure and changing social structures, all due to climate change. The cases in the digest dealing with mitigation and adaptation, as well as protection for those working to protect our environment, provide useful guidance in resolving these issues in court. This is new “legal” territory for the Pacific and SPC RRRT hopes to assist in charting that territory,’ Mr Creighton said.

Sandra Bernklau, SPC RRRT’s Programme Manager, stated that the publication demonstrates the increase in cases involving human rights in Pacific courts.

‘The large number of cases in this law digest is evidence that the Pacific is committed to the values of human rights, in keeping with the values entrenched in the Pacific. This shows that there is profound commitment within the Pacific judiciary towards the full observance of democratic values and the defence and promotion of human rights,’ Ms Bernklau said.

In the first volume of the Digest, RRRT collected 44 cases over a thirty-year period, while subsequent volumes reflected an increase in cases within one to three years. This fourth volume has 41 cases selected from over 50 cases from 2011 to 2013 alone.

For Federated States of Micronesia participant at the consultation, Yoslyn G Sigrah, Attorney Advisor for the Kosrae Women Association, the digest is a wealth of knowledge and a ‘one-stop’ case law resource.

‘RRRT has done the job for me by compiling these examples of human rights cases into this publication that will certainly guide my work. The publication is indeed a big contribution to not only jurisdictions in the Pacific but the entire world,’ Ms Sigrah said.

Example cases in the digest include ensuring protection against unreasonable detention, abuse of process, discrimination, redress for victims of inhuman and degrading treatment (torture), and the rule of law. Several cases stem from recognition of the vulnerability of children and women, ensuring their protection by the court, including protection from harmful cultural practices. There are several cases dealing with violence against women and girls.

Compiled for legal practitioners, magistrates and judges, and policy makers, as well as students and non-legal advocates, the cases in this publication will serve as precedents and tools for policy initiatives in the region, a useful and timely resource for the participants of the Pacific Lawyers Consultations on Human Rights.

Supported by Australian AID, the regional consultation is now into its third day at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, with participants from Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer at +679 330 5994 or email [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).