Progress in the Pacific: Samoa accedes to the UN Convention against Torture
The Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) welcomes Samoa’s accession to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) on 28 March 2019.
Speaking on Samoa’s accession, Hon. Susuga Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, stated: “Ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture signals our commitment to upholding international human rights standards on the protection against torture and implementing the Convention will be critical to our efforts to deliver on SDG16 and our vision to promote a safe, fair and just Samoa.”
By acceding to UNCAT, Samoa delivered on its commitment made during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2016, and joins Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Vanuatu to become the fifth Pacific Small Island State Party to UNCAT, moving the Pacific closer to regional universality. Accession to UNCAT is in line with Samoa’s existing laws, including Article 7 of its Constitution, which specifically provides for the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.
Hon. Fa’aolesa Katopau T. Ainu’u, Minister of Justice of Samoa, added: “Samoa is a strong democratic country built on the principles of the rule of law and is committed to implementing its international human rights obligations. Our cultural institutions and our traditional chiefly system are key to maintaining peace and stability in our country, a system that served us well for over three thousand years. Respect for the rule of law has been an integral part of Samoa’s journey as an independent nation for more than fifty-five years now. Samoa has ratified this important Convention on that basis.”
CTI was pleased to have supported the Government of Samoa in its journey towards accession, including through a diplomatic visit and seminar with stakeholders carried out in 2017, and, more recently, Samoa’s participation in a high-level regional Seminar on ratification and implementation of UNCAT which gathered 11 of the 12 Pacific Small Island Developing States along with other States from around the world, held from 6-8 February 2019 in Natadola, Fiji.
“I heartily congratulate Samoa on taking this important step of acceding to the UN Convention against Torture, which we trust will bring great benefits domestically, as has been Fiji’s experience. Across the Pacific, we share a commitment to human rights and the prevention of violence, and the UN Convention against Torture is an important international tool that helps us achieve peaceful and sustainable societies,” said H.E. Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN in Geneva and on behalf of the CTI Core States.
“We remain committed to working with the Government of Samoa and all Pacific countries on the full implementation of the Convention. I am confident Samoa’s accession will generate further positive progress in the Pacific,” recapitulated Dr. Alice Edwards, Head of the CTI Secretariat.
CTI, launched in 2014, is made up of Chile, Denmark, Fiji,* Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco, and is supported by a full-time Secretariat based in Geneva. CTI is based on constructive dialogue, international cooperation and technical assistance.
States that are interested in assistance with ratifying and/or implementing the Convention can get in touch directly with the CTI Core States through their diplomatic representations in Geneva or New York, or via the CTI Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a State peer review process in which the human rights record of every State in the world is considered as part of the Human Rights Council, based in Geneva. States have the opportunity to respond to recommendations by other States. Of the top five recommendations put to States during the second cycle, two relate to ratifying UNCAT or torture prevention more generally. For more information, see https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/upr/pages/uprmain.aspx.
SDG16 is the 16th Sustainable Development Goal, which focuses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Ratifying UNCAT is a helpful step to deliver and realise SDG16.
*Fiji joined as a CTI Core State in February 2019.