SAMOA: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

Samoa has ratified the CRC but, to date, has not ratified any of its Optional Protocols. The CRC does not form part of Samoa’s national law, nevertheless courts have applied the Convention in several cases. Civil proceedings, actions to enforce fundamental rights under the Constitution, and judicial review proceedings may be brought in Nauru to challenge violations of children’s rights. Children generally must be represented by a guardian ad litem, though there are some circumstances in which they can bring proceedings by themselves. Alternatively, complaints about children’s rights violations may be submitted to the Ombudsman. Courts appear to have wide powers to provide remedies in cases of rights violations. Obstacles to access to justice in Samoa include the limited availability of legal aid, the lack of legal standing for NGOs to bring complaints to court, and the lack of child-friendly procedures in court proceedings.

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