The launch event was presided by Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa.
The mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman was extended in 2013. For the first time, Samoa had a national human rights institution and until the recent re-establishment of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, it was the only functioning national human rights institution in the Pacific island countries. Speaking at the event, Ms. Catherine Phuong, Acting Regional Representative for the OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific, stated that “the Office of the Ombudsman is now seen as model for the rest of the region and several Governments have expressed their interest in learning more about the Samoan experience.”
The State of Human Rights Report 2015 provides a timely analysis of the most pressing human rights issues in Samoa, focusing on vulnerable populations, such as women, children, people with disabilities and prisoners. In doing so, the report examines a broad range of issues in a principled and culturally sensitive manner. The report also demonstrates that the concept of human rights is compatible with Samoan principles and values, and seeks to analyse human rights in the Samoan context.
Ms. Phuong emphasized the key role played by the Ombudsman, Mr. Maiava Iulai Toma, in establishing the credibility and the strong reputation of the Office. She congratulated the Office on producing an excellent report and expressed the hope that it would lead to concrete improvements for the protection of human rights in Samoa.