Samoa takes Pacific lead in committing to justice for children

The Government of Samoa this week ratified two key human rights instruments; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on a communications procedure.

For children in Samoa this means that the government has made a concrete commitment to protect them from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, and they now have an international complaints procedure in place for child rights violations if a solution has not been reached at the national level.

Samoa is the first Pacific country to ratify and commit to making their laws compliant with the Optional Protocol to the CRC on a communications procedure, the newest addition to the CRC. The Protocol will come into effect on July 29.

“UNICEF commends the Government of Samoa for taking this step forward and continuing to demonstrate how much they value children,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr Karen Allen.

“The Optional Protocols complement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognise new commitments governments need to pay attention to, for example to protect children from sexual exploitation or to improve the protection of children.”

By signing these human rights instruments, the Government of Samoa will institute specific legal provisions linked to sexual offence-related activities. Punishment is not only for those offering or delivering children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, transfer of organs or children for profit or forced labour, but also for anyone accepting the child for these activities. Under its new commitments, the Government will also allow children from Samoa to bring complaints about violations of their rights directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, if they have not found a solution at national level.