Compilation of UN Information
Accepted and Rejected Recomendations
II. Existing human rights framework
A. National laws, legislation and treaty obligations
11. The international human rights treaties ratified by Samoa are: (1) Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); (2) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); (3) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and (4) International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (CED).
C. Official authorities and State institutions with human rights mandate
Samoa Law Reform Commission
20. Since the UPR in 2011 the SLRC has been actively engaged in legislative reforms in order to achieve compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). A total of 11 laws have since been reformed, including the reform of the Crimes Ordinance 1961 which is now repealed by the Crimes Act 2013.
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations and public awareness of human rights
26. The courts are independent and have in the reporting period used human rights standards and norms in making decisions. Some key decisions protecting the rights of the child and women, as well as persons with disabilities include:
(a) In the case of Police v BA  WSYC 2 (12 June 2014), a young person was charged with sexual conduct with a child under 12 years old pursuant to section 58 (1) of the Crimes Act 2013. In considering the sentence for this young offender, Justice Tuatagaloa stated at paragraph 52: “I am also mindful of the rights of young people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the rights of the young people to have their needs for rehabilitation and reintegration respected through the criminal justice system”.
(b) In the matter of Police v Lemalu  WSSC 79 (20 August 2015), the accused appeared for sentence on two charges of sexual conduct with a dependent family member under 21 years old. The accused was 43 years old and the victim was 15 years old at the time of the offending. In discussion of the sentencing features, the Honourable Chief Justice Sapolu highlighted at paragraph 26 the CRC by stating: “I am also mindful of the rights of young people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the rights of the young people to have their need for rehabilitation and reintegration respected through the criminal justice system.”
27. In recent years there has been an increase in awareness programs delivered by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Ministry of Police, Samoa Family Health Association, Samoa Victim Support , Samoa Faafafine Association, Samoa Family Health Association, Nuanua o le Alofa, SENESE, Loto Taumafai, Special Olympics, Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association, National Council of Churches, Samoa Association of Women Graduates, National Council of Women, Samoa Women’s Development Committee, Samoa Alamai Group, and the National Human Rights Institution. However there still is a need to develop courses within the University and school curriculum on human rights.
28. The consultations that were carried out for the SHRR with 7 schools, University and the National Youth Council Members last year helped identified human rights issues not only for the purpose of the report but it assisted in the planning process of human rights education and training in schools for Samoa. These consultations explored the views, knowledge and understanding of children and young people of Samoa of human rights. It clearly confirmed the need for human rights education and training to help address the misconceptions of human rights amongst children and young people.
29. This year will kick start the “My Rights Friendly School Program” for Samoa as part of the human rights activities work plan. The Program will consist of human rights education activities targeting students of 3 schools covered in the previous consultations. The program aims to eventually cover all schools that were involved in the report consultations and extend to cover all schools in Samoa pending available resources and office capacity. The idea of this program is not only tackling human rights education for students but also aims to extend human rights education for teachers, parents and school committees to further enhance the effectiveness of the program and further promote better understanding of school communities of the value of understanding and application of human rights in school environment. The program will also include various activities which include the Schools MOCK UPR competition which will be carried out in cooperation with OHCHR to raise students understanding of UPR and what it entails particularly as Samoa will be reviewed by the UPR committee this year. It is hoped that the activities for the My Rights Friendly School Program will be carried out in cooperation with different organisations both international and local to encourage a variety of knowledge and resources.
(Recommendations 73.13-73.14, 73.29-73.32, 74.1–74.3, 74.8, 74.10–74.11, 74.15, 74.18, 74.28, 75.31)
Family Safety Act
47. During the 2011 UPR the Family Safety Act 2013 was still a Bill, however, since then it has been passed and is now enforced. The Family Safety Act 2013 provides for the protection of women and children from domestic violence.
48. A Specialist Family Violence Court has been set up to deal with family violence issues and child protection. A related development has been the establishment of the Alcohol and Drugs Court in 2015 which looks at a system by which the court provides rehabilitation services for offenders. Statistics indicate that gender based violence is associated with alcohol consumption.
49. Since the last report, national efforts such as 16 Days of Activism on the Elimination of Violence against Women, White Ribbon Day and National Human Rights Day, International Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect are some of the major campaigns that are coordinated jointly by Government, NGOs and community based organisations. There has been an increase in the engagement of village communities to address violence within the village, where women and untitled men’s groups have initiated village violence free advocacy campaigns.
51. The Samoa Law Reform Commission is leading the CEDAW legislative Compliance Review with public consultations recently completed under the oversight of the MWCSD. The Samoa Victim Support Group have been instrumental in raising awareness programs and assisting women and children in getting court orders against men who perpetuate domestic violence against women. The enactment of the Family Safety Act and the Family Court Act are contributing to this fight against discrimination and the protection of the rights of women.
(Recommendations 73.31, 73.36–73.39, 74.18–74.24, 75.36, 75.8)
57. Section 23 of the Education Act 2009 prohibits corporal punishment in schools and is to be used as a police to discipline students.
58. Key recommendations relating to the education sector were implemented. Infrastructure improvements remains a priority, issues on access to education for persons with disabilities, accessible schools and appropriate equipment and information provided in accessible formats. Inclusive education is a priority and something that is slowly being implements in schools from the primary to tertiary level. Other programs implemented include early childhood education; however, resources remain a key barrier. Compulsory education is still being promoted and mandatory by law (Compulsory Education Act 2009) with penalties for parents who fail to send children to school in accordance with the law.
59. Compulsory Education is one of the provisions of the Education Act 2009 that is stipulate under Part II, Division 4, number 20, as Employment of compulsory school-aged child. The provision aims to engage the compulsory aged-child throughout the school hours in school rather than being involved in street trading during school hours.
60. In enforcing and encouraging this provision, there are various interventions put into operation to ensure increased access to education for compulsory aged-children in Samoa. The following are some of the interventions that contribute to increased access to education or the rights to education.
61. The Samoa School Fees Grant Scheme (SSFGS) is a strategy by the Government of Samoa and supported by the Government of Australia and New Zealand initially to offset some of the impacts of the global recession on the people of Samoa. It is also a means to enhance the accessibility of basic school education by all children of Samoa from Year 1 to Year 11, with the aim for Samoa to achieve universal free and compulsory education by the year 2015 under MDG 3. The SSFGS provides schools with funds to help them meet the Minimum Service Standards (MSS) thus improving Learning and Teaching. All schools except for private schools for both primary and secondary levels are eligible to receive funding under the Samoa School Fees Grant Scheme.
62. The fourth year of the scheme following a mid-term review recorded numerous achievements and benefits at the school and district levels that contribute to the Government’s effort to improve the quality of education for primary school students. Some of the significant achievements made include:
Steady increase in enrolled students despite fluctuations from year to year;
Progressive rate in all year levels besides Year 8 to Year 9 and Year 1 to 2 is above 94%, indicating a sound internal efficiency of the education system at these year levels;
Primary drop-out rates have been low over recent years, except for 2010–2011. Drop-out in all year levels besides Year 1 to 2 and Year 8 to 9 have a lower proportion of students leaving school before completing the school year;
198 students were recorded to have attended schools for the first time in their lives since the commencement of the scheme. Of this number, 60% were those who attended schools because they were not required to pay any fee, although they are still required to pay a much lesser fee for registration.
63. The Compulsory Education Spot Check Patrol program is a joint strategy between MESC and the Ministry of Police to be conducted in the beginning of every academic year. This initiative is part of the many efforts carried out to enforce the Compulsory Education provision of the legislation. The ultimate objective of conducting spot checks are to ensure that every child between the ages of 5–14 attend School during school hours and school days instead of spending time on the street as street vendors or other reasons. It also ensures parents prioritize their children’s education over other things. The program is part of a continuous effort to enforce the Education Act 2009 since its enactment in 2010. The Spot Check program is ongoing and is normally conducted at the beginning of each school term in January, April, June and September.
64. An annual Government grant of $6 million is distributed to all education providers outside Government who contribute in developing the education system in Samoa. These include Mission Schools, Private Schools, Special Needs Schools, Early Childhood Education Schools and National Council of Early Childhood Education for Samoa (NCECES). The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture was tasked under the directive from Cabinet to allocate this grant appropriately, the premise usually being the school rolls.
65. The Government of Samoa funds the procurement of stationery for all Year 1 up to Year 13 students. The stationery is under the management and control of the MESC, and are distributed to all Government schools before school starts every year. Other schools such as Missions, Private, ECE and Special Needs may also receive free supplies of stationeries upon requests to the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
66. The Minimum Service Standards (MSS) for both Schools and Early Childhood Education (ECE) are all in place to ensure and encourage school improvement from year to year.
67. An allocation of 7.5% of the $6 million grant from the Government is allocated to ECE from year to year to support education at this level. The ECE policy and its MSS documents are in place to guide and lead the smooth implementation of ECE in Samoa.
68. Samoa received a recommendation to lift the reservation made to article 28 paragraph 1 (a) of the CRC. Although Samoa noted this recommendation, it has taken a step towards implementing free education in Samoa. Today, education is free for all Government primary schools (not affecting private schools who operate on a school fee paying scheme).
Children with disabilities
69. The Inclusive Education Policy 2014 recently approved by Cabinet focuses on improving educational opportunities and outcomes for young children and students with disabilities during early childhood, school, and post-school sub-sectors.
70. The Samoa Inclusive Education Demonstration Program was an initiative implemented in 2010, to support and strengthen Inclusive Education [Special Needs] which was firstly introduced in 2009.
71. The program is funded under the Samoa-Australia Partnership and is to be implemented over a five year period. The program demonstrated a model of service provision for girls and boys with disability for inclusive education, which could be sustained and supported by the Government of Samoa in its future program development.
72. One of the early deliverables include greater access, retention, progression, and gradual integration into the regular school system for both girls and boys with disability, in rural and urban areas in Samoa. Two NGOs namely SENESE and Loto Taumafai assisted in the implementation of this program. One of the milestones recorded is that 277 children with disabilities now have access to school in Samoa or early intervention services in Samoa. This is an increase from 134 as recorded in 2009.
73. The plan is for the MESC to take full ownsership and management of inclusive education services by 2016.
74. In relation to eliminating child labour the 1972 Labour and Employment Act was reviewed. The newly enacted labour law regulates the employment of children. Section 51 of the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 states that no person must employ a child under the age of 15 except in a safe and light work suited to the child’s capacity, or a child under 18 years on dangerous machinery or in any other working place or condition injurious to the physical or moral health of the child, or a child under 15 years on a vessel unless such vessel is under the personal charge of the parent or guardian of the child.
75. In addition, recent reforms include revisiting the definition of ‘light work’ in relation to children’s employment to ensure that what constitutes child labour is tailored towards the local context and within a particular setting or context. Joint efforts by MCIL, National Workers Congress, and members of a newly set up Child Labour Taskforce have started in an attempt to implement basic strategies to address issues of children involved in vendor services’ particularly during school hours.
76. MESC through their Compulsory Education Taskforce enforces compulsory education particularly with a focus on child vendors.
77. The MWCSD Child Care and Protection Bill states provisions for ensuring protective mechanisms for children selling goods in public settings which has been raised as a public safety issue.
78. The Young Offenders Act 2007 sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 10 years of age. However, the new Sentencing Bill 2015 and Criminal Procedure Bill 2015 provides for a child to be a person under the age of 18 years to comply with requirements under the CRC. There have been discussions to amend the Young Offenders Act 2007 to align with these new changes and to comply with requirements under the CRC.
79. The current minimum age for criminal liability is provided in section 3 of the Crimes Act 2013 which states that no person under the age of 10 years is to be charged with any criminal offence. Section 5 of the Young Offenders Act 2007 provides that any criminal charge brought against a “young person” must be laid in the Youth Court whereby “young person” is defined in the Act as any person of or over the age of 10 years and under the age of 17 years. On that note, a person charged with an offence that is 17 years and above is dealt with in the District or Supreme Court as an adult.
80. There have been discussions on equalizing the legal minimum age of marriage for girls and boys to comply with CRC. The necessary changes will be made to the relevant legislation. The current minimum age of marriage is 18 years old for a male and 16 years old for a female as per section 9 of the Marriage Ordinance 1961 of Samoa. This will soon be changed to equalize the legal minimum age of marriage for both male and female to 18 years old.
81. Section 157 of Samoa’s Crime Act 2013 provides that a person who deals with persons under the age of 18 years for sexual exploitation, removal of body parts or engagement in forced labour is liable for an imprisonment term not exceeding 14 years.
82. Section 72 criminalizes a person who has a sexual intercourse or sexual connection, or agrees, or offers to have sexual intercourse or sexual connection with another person for gain or reward. This covers all persons including children. Furthermore, section 74 makes a person who is living on earnings of prostitution liable to imprisonment.
83. Section 58 specifically provides protections of children and young person from sexual conduct i.e. sexual connection or attempts to have sexual connection with a child an offence, whereby a child means a person under the age of 12 years. Section 59 makes sexual connection or attempts to have sexual connection with a young person less than 16 years of age an offence. A young person means a person who is 12 years or over and under the age of 16 years. Section 218 makes it an offence for any person to carry out any act of solicitation of children.
84. Under section 82 of the Crimes Act 2013 it provides that production, publication, distribution or exhibition of indecent material on a child or on a child through an electronic system is an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven (7) years.
85. Section 9 of the Infant Ordinance 1961, provides that it is unlawful for a person to give or receive or agree to give or receive any payment or reward in consideration of the making of arrangement for adoption or proposed adoption.
E. Non-discrimination and gender equality
(Recommendations 73.14, 73.30, 74.30, 75.29–75.31)
88. Recently, PSC has reviewed its policy to be in-line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Convention Eliminating Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to increase the maternity leave entitlement to 3 months with pay and 3 and a half months without pay. The revised maternity leave policy also recognizes for the first time, stillborn babies, miscarriages and legal adoption of newborn babies and those up to 12 months. Female employees will be entitled to 4 weeks with pay and up to 26 weeks without pay. Male employees in the public service are entitled to 5 days Paternity Leave.
95. Public sectors working conditions and entitlements, recruitment and selection procedures, are accommodative to persons with disabilities. Similarly, employment and vocational training programs offered by the commerce and education sectors do not exclude persons with disabilities. Samoa’s obligations in joining the ILO under the Decent Country Work Program include promotion of decent employment opportunities, particularly for the youth, and inclusive of persons with disabilities.
96. The Samoa Qualifications Authority Post-Secondary School Access Grant for PSET providers, is designed to improved access to education and training for women, people with disability or those vulnerable in the labour market. The Tertiary Vocational Education and Training Support program is funded by Australia, and began in 2011. Its main objective is to ‘increase employability of Samoan women and men, including those with disability, by ensuring the employment readiness of TVET graduates in areas of labour demand as measured by student outcomes and levels of employer satisfaction.’
F. Prohibition of torture and cruel, degrading treatment
106. The proposed new prison facility at Tanumalala has a separate dwelling to accommodate pregnant women prisoners, as well as women prisoners who wish to take care of their children for up to a year. The current situation in terms of capital cannot completely cater for new facilities or extensions at the Tafaigata Prison alone.
G. Right to an adequate standard of living
(Recommendations 73.29, 73.37, 74.19, 74.31)
112. The Ministry of Health (MoH) is committed to ensuring the health of all people regardless of ethnicity, status, disability or gender, and in keeping with its vision of a “Healthy Samoa” formulated national policies, strategies and programmes for Sexual Reproductive Health. Policies include: National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy 2011-2016; National HIV and AIDS Policy 2011-2016; National Health Prevention Policy 2013-2018; National Infection Control Policy 2011-2016; Health Promotion Policy 2010- 2015; Child and Adolescent Policy 2013-2018; National Non-communicable Disease Policy 2010-2015;; Samoa’s Climate adaptation Strategy for Health (CASH), and the National Food and Nutrition Policy 2013-2018.
114. The National Sexual Reproductive Health Policy contributes to the improvement of reproductive health status of the people of Samoa, particularly women and children, by listing some of the major challenges in the area of sexual and reproductive health and identifying Key Strategic areas to address immediate and future actions. The vision of the policy is “Ensuring a Safe Sexual and Reproductive Health Environment for all Samoans”.
115. Indicators for Sexual and Reproductive Health have shown an improvement over the last decade. Life expectancy for Samoans is gradually increasing with females (75.6) living longer than males (72.7). The Total Fertility Rate rose slightly between 2006 and 2011. Births to adolescent mothers showed an overall decline from 2001 to 2011. The contraceptive prevalence rate is under 25% while the 2009 Demographic Health survey indicated that there are 44% of women who have an unmet need for family planning. This indicates women (married or in a consensual union) who are fecund and sexually active but do not use any method of contraception yet want to avoid or delay pregnancy. The high teenage fertility rates indicate there is likely high unmet need for family planning.
116. Improvements have seen with the availability of Information Packages to all pregnant mothers during their first antenatal clinic visits. These include counselling on STI symptoms, information on contraceptives for family planning, sexual relationships with partners, and protective contraceptive for unborn babies and mothers. HIV and AIDS screening is free of charge at the National Health Services.
117. Similarly, a Guideline for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) has been developed and implemented to regulate traditional birth attendants. The Guidelines is used to monitor and ensure Birth Attendants understand their roles and responsibilities when delivering and or offering their services to ensure the safety of mother and baby.
H. Environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction
122. Samoa is able to access technical assistance and financing for early warning systems, disaster risk reduction, and post–disaster response and post-disaster recovery, risk assessment and data, land use and planning, observation equipment, disaster preparedness and recovery education programs, including inter alia under the Global Framework for Climate Services, and disaster risk management. Through the NDMO, focus is on strengthening and supporting contingency planning and provisions for disaster preparedness and response, emergency relief and population evacuation, in particular for people in vulnerable situations, including inter alia women and girls, displaced persons, children, older persons and people with disabilities.
I. Treaty ratification and cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms
(Recommendations 73.1–73.12, 73.26–73.28, 75.8–75.12)
131. A review of the initial policy 2011–2015 was conducted in December 2014. The review found that policy mainstreaming has improved over the past 5 years, with disability sensitive frameworks having been developed within the education, health and communications sectors, and disaster management services. Successful inroads have been made in awareness capacity, sports, intervention services, and national statistics, enabled by donor commitment and an evolved partnership between the Government and civil society. However, continued vulnerability of women with disabilities, lack of economic opportunities and accessibility challenges, continue to hinder progress. Rural inclusive education and early childhood education are areas that are particularly affected by limited resources and facilities. Key factors to be used as stepping stones include a stronger mainstream approach, responsive laws, collective ownership and coordination, capacity building, and emphasis on community impact. A draft policy for the 2016–2020 period is currently being finalized.
135. In terms of recommendation for Samoa to ratify the two current Optional Protocols thereto, on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2000) and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000) to the CRC, the protocols were reviewed by the Attorney General. The Office of the Attorney General has advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in its letter dated 24 September 2013 that Samoa can sign the Optional Protocol on the Convention of the Rights on the Child (OPCRC). The Attorney General’s Office advised that since Samoa does not have any armed forces, Samoa complies with this obligation under the Convention.
VI. Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments
144. Samoa will continue to undertake reviews of its laws and policies to address the changing needs of its people and environment. These include gender equality, the enhancement of the rights of women and children, economic empowerment, law and order and access to justice. The Government is committed to working with development partners in ensuring that gender mainstreaming is filtered across the public service with identifiable best practices.
Compilation of UN Information
I. Background and framework
A. Scope of international obligations
1. International human rights treaties
1. In 2012 the Comitee on the Elimination of Discrimination encouraged Samoa to ratify ICESCR, ICERD, CAT, ICRMW, ICPPED and CRPD. The Committee called upon Samoa to ratify OP-CEDAW, and urged it to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103) and the ILO Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), and to adopt provisions to extend maternity leave in both the public and private sectors to 14 weeks. The Committee also called upon Samoa to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and other relevant international instruments.
5. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommended that Samoa be strongly encouraged to ratify the Convention against Discrimination in Education.
B. Constitutional and legislative framework
8. The country team also noted that in 2014 Samoa had established a Family Court through the Family Court Act 2014. The Family Court was a division of the District Court, and its purpose was to promote alternative forms of dispute resolution and conciliation. The Family Safety Act 2013 provided for an extensive definition of domestic violence. Important elements of the Act were the ability of a child to apply for a protection order without the consent of a parent or legal guardian, the duties of the police and the “no drop policy”, under which a report of domestic violence that involved any form of physical or sexual abuse must be pursued with intent to prosecute. The Family Court, which since its establishment had tried over 800 cases, was the first dedicated family court in the Pacific region outside of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The Family Court dealt with criminal cases related to family violence, and sought to hold defendants accountable for their actions and to compel them to address their violence in an appropriate way.
9. The country team encouraged advocacy on the Samoa Child Care and Protection Bill 2013, ownership by key partner agencies and passage of the bill in Parliament.18 The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations expressed the hope that the bill would be adopted in the near future.
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
A. Equality and non-discrimination
18. The Committee also urged Samoa to put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy to modify or eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminated against women; to expand public education programmes, in particular in rural areas; to use innovative measures that targeted the media to strengthen understanding of the equality of women and men; and to use the education system to enhance a positive and non- stereotypical portrayal of women.35
19. The country team encouraged the Government to further support substantive interventions to reduce violence against women and girls and on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, through legislation, inter-agency collaboration and response systems; and to support the availability of free legal assistance and formal alternatives to dispute resolution mechanisms for family matters.
B. Right to life, liberty and security of person
25. The Committee urged Samoa to put in place comprehensive measures to prevent and address violence against women and girls, ensuring that women and girls who were victims of violence had access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators were prosecuted; to provide mandatory training for judges and prosecutors on the strict application of legal provisions dealing with violence against women and to train police officers on procedures for dealing with women victims of violence; to encourage women to report incidents of domestic and sexual violence by destigmatizing victims and raising awareness about the criminal nature of such acts; to provide adequate assistance and protection to women victims of violence by establishing shelters, especially in rural areas, and enhancing cooperation with non-governmental organizations providing shelter and rehabilitation to victims; and to collect statistical data on domestic and sexual violence.
28. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations noted with satisfaction the adoption of the Crimes Act 2013, which contained in its section 155 a specific provision prohibiting the sale and trafficking of children.45 The Committee requested the Government to continue to provide information on the application in practice of section 155, including the number of investigations and prosecutions, and any measures taken with regard to the identification of victims of trafficking.
30. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations requested the Government to take the necessary measures to identify and protect children engaged in street vending from the worst forms of child labour, and to provide information on the number of child street vendors who had been removed from the worst forms of child labour by the police and school attendance officers.48 The Committee also requested the Government to indicate the measures taken or envisaged with regard to adopting regulations determining the types of hazardous work prohibited for children under 18 years pursuant to the Labour and Employment Act 2013.49 The country team noted that, in April 2015, Samoa had established a working group on child labour, comprising a number of governmental and non-governmental partners, to plan and coordinate advocacy on child labour.
G. Right to health
41. The country team indicated that Samoa was on track to achieve, or had already achieved, Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6, which were the internationally agreed targets encompassing infant and under-five mortality; maternal mortality and skilled attendance at birth; and HIV prevalence and tuberculosis treatment. There had been an increase in life expectancy and a decrease in child mortality in Samoa. Between 1991 and 2011, life expectancy at birth had increased from 64 years to 76 years.63 The Government of Samoa had enshrined the right to health in the Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2012-2016.
42. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomed the adoption of the national HIV/AIDS policy for 2011-2016.65 It was concerned about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and that existing sex education programmes were insufficient. The Committee urged Samoa to widely promote education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, targeting adolescent girls and boys and paying special attention to early pregnancy and control of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
44. In 2015, the Committee on the Rights of the Child requested information on the main achievements in adolescent health of the national youth policy for 2011-2015 and the national health policy for 2012-2017, namely regarding suicide, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and discrimination against pregnant girls.
H. Right to education
46. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned at the high dropout rates between the primary and secondary levels (46 per cent) and the lack of information on tertiary enrolment; at the high number of girls who were victims of sexual abuse and harassment in schools by teachers; at the high dropout rate and the low retention and completion rates for girls, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels, owing to teenage pregnancy, discriminatory traditional and cultural practices and poverty, especially in rural areas; and at traditional views of both students and teachers, which oriented female students into areas of study perceived as appropriate to their social roles and participation in public life.
47. The Committee urged the State party to address barriers to the education of women and girls, such as negative cultural attitudes and excessive domestic duties, to take steps to reduce and prevent dropouts among girls and to strengthen the implementation of re-entry policies enabling girls who drop out to return to school; to provide safe educational environments free from discrimination and violence and to institute measures to protect girls from sexual harassment and violence in schools, in particular in rural areas; to strengthen awareness-raising and training for school officials and students, and for children through the media, and to establish reporting and accountability mechanisms to ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment in schools are prosecuted and punished.
48. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations expressed the firm hope that the Government would take the necessary measures, without delay, to ensure that the age of completion of compulsory schooling was raised to 15 years, which was the minimum age for admission to employment for Samoa.
49. UNESCO stated that Samoa had adopted policies to improve the focus on access to education, quality of education for all and inclusive education through the corporate plan for July 2012-June 2015 based on the development of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture strategic policies and plan for 2006-2015, along with the strategy for the development of Samoa for 2012-2016.74 UNESCO indicated that Samoa could be encouraged to continue implementing strategic plans focusing on access to education for all and free primary education and integrate non-discriminatory principles in order to enhance the quality of education at all levels.
J. Persons with disabilities
52. UNESCO stated that steps had been taken to promote special education for persons with disabilities, with special attention paid to girls and women with disabilities (strategic policies and plan for 2006-2015).
53. The country team stated that, at present, there were limited services, employment, facilities and access for persons with disabilities in Samoa. There were no Government- operated facilities to look after young people or children with disabilities; services for children with disabilities were provided by two non-governmental organizations.
54. The Committee on the Rights of the Child requested information on the measures taken to mainstream the participation of children with disabilities into the formal education system and on the main results achieved regarding children’s rights by the national policy for persons with disabilities and the implementation plan for 2009-2012.
L. Right to development, and environmental issues
58. While bearing in mind the vulnerability of Samoa to natural disasters, the Committee on the Rights of the Child requested information on how child protection issues were taken into consideration and addressed by the national disaster management plan for 2011-2015 and the national action plan for disaster risk management for 2011-2016.
I. Information provided by stakeholders
A. Background and framework
1. Scope of international obligations
1. The National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) and JS34 recommended the Samoan Government to sign and ratify: the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and its the Optional Protocol (OPCAT); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). NHRI5 and JS36 recommended the Samoan Government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol. NHRI7 recommended Samoa to ratify the Optional Protocol for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a communications procedure; and ILO Convention 159 - Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons), 1983. NHRI also recommended withdrawing the current reservation under Article 28 of the CRC.
7. Oceania Human Rights (OHR) stated that Samoa should ratify CRPD immediately and indicated that the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) should be a national priority to ensure the realization of those rights for youth and elders in Samoa.
8. JS1 recommended taking steps to immediately accede to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
2. Constitutional and legislative framework
10. Goshen Trust noted that the Samoan Government should fully resource and implement the Mental Health Act 2007 and strengthen the protection of women and children with mental illness from domestic violence, sexual child and adolescent abuse through tougher legal penalties.
12. JS1 also recommended Samoa to enact national anti-trafficking legislation criminalising all conduct related to trafficking in persons, especially children, in line with article 3 and article 5 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
3. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
17. Goshen Trust noted that the Samoan Government should develop national policy or alternative education opportunities for young girls with mental and physical needs.
19. Samoa Family Health Organization (SFHA) recommended Samoa to ensure the review and development of the existing national policies to include: the incorporation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in all schools curriculum (Government, private and Church schools); alternative educational opportunities for young girls who become pregnant while in school; strengthening consultations with young people and civil societies; increased institutional capacity and awareness on all rights and information related to sexual and reproductive health.
21. JS1 noted that Samoa should enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking national action plan to address the issue of trafficking in persons at multiple levels.30 JS1 recommended the Samoan Government to engage in a public awareness campaign focused on educating the public on sexual exploitation of children, similar to previous campaigns on violence against women.
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
1. Equality and non-discrimination
24. The National Human Rights Institution recommended that the Samoan Government expand awareness raising programs for families to combat negative social and cultural attitudes towards teenage pregnancy; consider the serious plight of, and viable medical options for, victims who fall pregnant from unlawful sexual acts; and financially support NGOs working with victims of rape and incest.
2. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
29. JS3 stated that domestic, sexual violence and abuse against children are widespread and continue to be a problem in Samoa. JS3 recommended that the Government provide tougher penalties around sexual violence and abuse of children; strengthen its child protection laws in these areas and urgently set up a child sex offenders’ register.
32. NHRI indicated that sexual abuse and incest are condemned by both national law and fa’asamoa (the Samoan way of life). Despite this, the NHRI is concerned that sexual abuse and incest are prevalent and there is a lack of information and statistical data on their nature, extent and causes. Further, young children are not aware of where to report child abuse or incest. The National Human Rights Institution recommended that the Samoan Government collaborate with it and relevant NGOs to deliver a community education campaign to dispel the misconception about the rights of the child. The NHRI should work with the Samoan Government to investigate and develop child-friendly reporting avenues for child abuse, sexual assault and incest.
35. Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children stated that corporal punishment of children in Samoa is unlawful in the penal system but it is only partly prohibited in schools and day care settings, and it is not prohibited in alternative care settings or the home. Achieving full prohibition requires the enactment of legislation clearly prohibiting corporal punishment in these settings and explicitly repealing the right “to administer punishment” in the Infants Ordinance 1961. The Child Care and Protection Bill currently under discussion provides an opportunity to achieve the necessary reforms, but it requires amendment in order to do so.
36. JS3 noted that incidences of child vendors particularly after school hours and during school holidays continue interfering with child’s education and social development. JS3 recommended taking measures to reduce numbers of child vendors, consistently with its obligations under ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention (No. 138) concerning minimum age for admission to employment.
3. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
38. NHRI welcomed recent developments in the criminal justice system including the establishment of an independent monitoring mechanism for places of detention, the establishment of a Youth Court, and a range of reforms enacted through the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013. NHRI recommended that the Samoan Government fully implement the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013, and the recommendations contained within the NHRI’s ‘Detention Centre Inspections Report’, June 2015, which includes addressing prison water supply, improving hygiene, classifying and separating prisoners, developing a standard induction process, and improving access to health care; developing and implementing comprehensive educational and vocational training and rehabilitation programs for prisoners.
7. Right to health
44. SFHA recommended Samoa to undertake evidence-based data collections on reasons for the low level of contraceptive use among women, especially on specific target groups of population with unmet need for contraception. The Government of Samoa should collect data on unsafe abortion in order to record its magnitude on women and girls’ health.
8. Right to education
46. The National Human Rights Institution noted that Samoa is on track to meet Millennium Development Goal 2 in achieving universal compulsory primary education with the national schooling participation rate for children aged 5-14 above 90% since 2005. Primary and secondary education in Samoa is free under the Samoa School Fee Grant Scheme. The National Human Rights Institution recommended that the Samoan Government assist in reducing the incidental cost of education so that primary education in Samoa can be completely free, and ensure enforcement of the Education Act 2009 to reduce the amount of school-aged children working as street vendors.
47. Regarding implementation of recommendations 73.38 and 73.39 (A/HRC/18/14), JS3 stated that education in Samoa is compulsory from ages 5 to 14, but there are still many children noticeably roaming the streets instead of attending school, and there is still lack of enforceability of the Education Act 2009 and minimum resourcing to ensure proper implementation. JS3 recommended increasing financial resources and oversight to ensure the full implementation of the Education Act.
12. Environmental issues
55. Regarding implementation of recommendation 73.41 (A/HRC/18/14), JS3 stated that awareness of people on climate change issues and its impact remain a challenge and need to be effectively addressed by the Government. JS3 recommended mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies within the Education Curriculum and within the Government and the Samoan community at large; and adopting a multi-sectoral approach including the involvement of non-governmental organisations in raising awareness within Samoa and internationally.
Accepted and Rejected Recomendations
The following recommendations enjoy the support of Samoa, which considers that they are already implemented or in the process of implementation:
95.4 Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, in so doing, ensure adequate education for children with mental and physical disabilities (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);
95.11 Ratify the three optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child: the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure (France);
95.13 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Uruguay) (Guatemala);
95.14 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Germany);
95.21 Harmonize national laws with the international regulations on the rights of women and children (Ukraine);
95.23 Further enhance national policies to promote the rights of women and children (Georgia);
95.34 Pursue the recommendations outlined in the 2015 State of Human Rights Report, particularly those relating to women, children, people with disabilities and prisoners (Australia);
95.39 Take the necessary measures to remove difficulties facing persons with disabilities, including improving access to public spaces and services and empowering children and women with disabilities to exercise their rights (Republic of Korea);
95.46 Implement awareness-raising and training programmes for school staff and students to create safe educational environments free from discrimination (Maldives);
95.50 Investigate and prosecute all allegations and incidents of acts of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence. Implement targeted training for law enforcement, and engage with community leaders in the development of public education campaigns (Canada);
95.51 Take active steps to further promote children’s rights by spreading awareness about domestic violence and child labour and emphasizing the importance of students’ school attendance (Germany);
95.53 Consider, as soon as possible, compiling statistical data on sexual offences against children and putting in place a registry of persons convicted of such offences (Haiti);
95.56 Establish effective child abuse reporting mechanisms and ensure the appropriate remedy and rehabilitation for child victims (Malaysia);
95.59 Establish effective and transparent mechanisms to prevent violence, in particular against women, girls and boys, and ensure that these mechanisms are allocated with the necessary capacity and resources to be operational (Mexico);
95.61 Further protect children against violence and child labour through the strengthening of legislation, in order to safeguard their well-being and their right to education (Portugal);
95.64 Establish a coordination mechanism to combat child labour, including in all its worst forms (United States of America);
95.65 Apply harsher sentences for sexual violence and child abuse, with a view to strengthening laws on child protection, as well as developing new avenues for making complaints of child abuse, sexual aggression and incest which are adapted to children (Uruguay);
95.66 Strengthen measures to combat child abuse (Algeria);
95.67 Raise the level of protection for children, in particular against sexual abuse and child labour (Cabo Verde);
95.68 Continue progress in harmonizing its legislation on child labour with international standards (Chile);
95.74 Step up efforts to promote sexual education, particularly oriented towards adolescents, paying special attention to the prevention of early pregnancy and to the control of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, as previously recommended (Mexico);
95.76 Ensure effective implementation of the 2009 Education Act and also develop a national strategy to reduce dropout rates and to address cases of school-aged children working as street vendors (Italy);
95.77 Strengthen the implementation of policies to permit teenaged mothers to return to formal education and sit exams after giving birth, aimed at breaking cycles of poverty, teenage pregnancy and domestic abuse (Jamaica);
95.78 Step up efforts to achieve universal basic education and implement specific measures to reduce and prevent the dropping out of school by girls (Mexico);
95.79 Enhance efforts to improve access to quality education for all at all levels (Philippines);
95.80 Provide more school opportunities for children and strengthen education, vocational and technical training (China);
95.81 Continue efforts aiming at enhancing human rights education, especially for children (Egypt);
96.20 Consider ratifying other key international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as Optional Protocols to the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ukraine);
(Recommendation 96.20: (5) Samoa thanks the Working Group members for this recommendation on the ratification of the optional protocol for CRC. Samoa was the first Pacific Island Nation to ratify the following three Optional protocols of the CRC on (i) the involvement of children in armed conflict ii) on the sale of children and iii) child prostitution of children in May and April 2016. (6) This shows Samoa’s strong commitment in the protection of children from harmful practices that may affect their rights and freedoms. As such, Samoa accepts this recommendation).
The recommendations listed below cannot be supported at this time and are noted by Samoa :
96.38 Amend its laws to prohibit corporal punishment of children in all settings and circumstances, and take further steps to eradicate child labour and guarantee the right to education of all children (Ireland).
(Recommendations 96.38 (16)The Childcare Protection Bill 2013, which contains a legislative and policy framework for the care and protection of children, also would domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child in its entirety. This bill also seeks to prohibit corporal punishment, which is partly prohibited in schools and day care settings. This work is ongoing for Samoa in order to achieve prohibition in all settings, school, alternative care and at home, therefore this recommendation is noted.(17) In relation to eliminating child labour, the 1972 Labour and Employment Act was reviewed, whereby the newly enacted labour law, Employment Relations Act 2013 setting out work conditions for a 15 year old and 18 year old child. In addition, a Child Labour Taskforce has started in an attempt to implement basic strategies to address issues of ‘children involved in vendor services’ particularly during school hours.(18) Compulsory education is essential in an effort to engage the compulsory aged child throughout the school hours in school rather than being involved in street trading during school hours. The Education Act 2009 stipulates compulsory education under Part II, Division 4, and number 20. Despite financial constraints, Samoa with the support of the Government of Australia and New Zealand initiated the Samoa School Fees Grant Scheme (SSFGS) to enhance the accessibility of basic school education by all children of Samoa from Year 1 to Year 11. In addition, the reservation on article 28 paragraph 1 (a) of the CRC is still in place, Samoa has taken initial steps to implementing free education, through the SSFGS paid entirely by the Government for primary schools and three years of secondary schooling. The SSFGS does not extend to the private schools which is eligible for Government grant funding on an annual basis.)