CTI concludes successful visit to Samoa to discuss UNCAT ratification

A Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) delegation led by H.E. Ambassador Carsten Staur, Danish Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, was pleased to visit Samoa this week at the invitation of the Government of Samoa. The CTI is a State initiative led by the Governments of Denmark, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco that, through political cooperation with States, seeks to achieve universal ratification of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) by 2024.

The CTI delegation together with Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Papaliitele Niko Lee Hang

Samoa is one of the 33 remaining States in the world that has not yet ratified the anti-torture treaty but has displayed a strong commitment to do so. Samoa has accepted recommendations during its first Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council to ratify the UNCAT.

During the visit, the CTI delegation met with the Acting Prime Minister, the CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ombudsman, the Acting Attorney General, and representatives of civil society and the diplomatic community. Discussions centred on opportunities and challenges for Samoa in addressing ill-treatment, and how UNCAT ratification could build on existing initiatives and bring new ways to continually improve practices.

“It is clear that Samoa is a strong democratic country built on the principles of the rule of law and clearly committed to implementing its international human rights obligations. It was a pleasure to discuss UNCAT ratification and implementation with key officials,” said Ambassador Staur. “All countries face different challenges in relation to how people in detention are treated. Using the UNCAT framework domestically to prevent and respond to ill-treatment would make good sense in Samoa,” he continued.  

Just last month Samoa hosted the Pacific Islands Forum, and was one of the first countries in the world to sign the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. “It is clear that Samoa plays an important role as a regional leader. Samoa also stands to benefit domestically from ratification of UNCAT,” Ambassador Staur said.

The delegation’s visit built on a joint CTI-Government of Samoa workshop on UNCAT held on 2 October, during which government officials learnt more about the UNCAT. Participants jointly identified some of the strengths and challenges of implementing the treaty.

During the CTIs visit, the delegation heard about Samoa’s ongoing work to improve good governance and access to justice. For example, the recent separation of the police and corrections departments, the detention monitoring work of the Samoan Ombudsman, as well the successful establishment of a national mechanism for implementation, reporting and follow up (NMRF) for Samoa’s international human rights obligations.  

“From our meetings we were heartened by the commitment expressed by the Government of Samoa, and the lack of apparent obstacles in law or practice to ratify this important treaty,” Ambassador Staur said. “The CTI stands ready to support Samoa in its efforts.”

Also in the delegation were Mr. Marc Limon, Executive Director of Universal Rights Group and Ms. Rebecca Minty, torture prevention expert.

Press release of the Office of the Ombudsman is available here and http://sobserver.ws/en/17_10_2017/local/25516/Ombudsman-calls-for-ratification-of-Convention-Against-Torture.htm.

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