Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews the report of Samoa

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Samoa on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Introducing the report, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, Minister for Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa, said that Samoa was the first Pacific island country to have submitted the instruments of ratification for the three Optional Protocols to the Convention, which was a demonstration of Samoa’s strong commitment, political will and leadership in the promotion and protection of children’s rights.  In 2013, Samoa established an independent National Human Rights Institution, whose 2015 human rights report – the first in Samoa – had a specific section devoted to children’s rights, which was now informing the ongoing review of the National Policy and Plan of Action for Children.  Samoa was in the process of passing the Child Care and Protection Bill, which contained a legislative and policy framework for the care and protection of children and would domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child in its entirety.  The 2013 Family Safety Act provided for the comprehensive protection of families, universal primary education was achieved through the Samoa School Free Grant Scheme, and early childhood and inclusive education remained a priority.

Committee Experts congratulated Samoa for passing important pieces of legislation and for ratifying the Optional Protocols, which clearly demonstrated its commitment to children’s rights.  They recognized the good cooperation with civil society organizations, which provided significant services to the population, and welcomed the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution.  The principles of the best interest of the child and the right of the child to be heard were not fully implemented in the family law or in the labour law, so the delegation was asked to explain how they would be reflected in the new legislation, and in particular in the 2016 Child Protection and Care Bill.  Experts inquired about the intentions to increase resources allocated to children’s rights, which stood at 2.5 per cent of the national budget, the existence and functioning of a complaint mechanism for breaches of children’s rights, measures in place to raise the rate of birth registration from the current 59 per cent, and what other measures could be taken to end all forms of discrimination against children, particularly discrimination against children with disabilities.

In concluding remarks, Peter Guran, Member of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for Samoa, said that the country was on the right way to guarantee, protect and promote children’s rights, and that efforts must continue to ensure that the laws fully complied with the Convention, in particular in education, in fighting high levels of violence, and in health.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Stowers reiterated the commitment of Samoa to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and said that the Committee’s recommendations would enhance the work in this area.

The delegation of Samoa consisted of representatives of the Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development and of Loto Taumafai Society for People with Disabilities.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 19 May, when it will consider the combined third to fifth periodic report of Nepal under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/NPL/3-5), as well as its initial report under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict  (CRC/C/OPAC/NPL/1).
Report

The combined second to fourth periodic report of Samoa under the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be read via the following link: CRC/C/WSM/2-4.

Presentation of the Report

FAIMALOTOA KIKA STOWERS, Minister for Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa, introducing the report, reiterated Samoa’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Samoa was the first Pacific island country to have submitted the instruments of ratification for the three Optional Protocols to the Convention, which was a demonstration of Samoa’s strong commitment, political will and leadership in the promotion and protection of children’s rights.  An independent National Human Rights Institution had been established in 2013, empowered to receive complaints of breaches of children’s rights, and which could trigger a special enquiry under the Ombudsman’s Act.  The National Human Rights Institution had published Samoa’s first human rights report in 2015, which had provided a critical snapshot of the human rights landscape in Samoa and had explored the complementarity of the country’s core values and the guiding principles of the international human rights system.  A specific section of the report devoted to children’s rights was informing the ongoing review of the National Policy and Plan of Action for Children, said Ms. Stowers.

The Child Care and Protection Bill 2016 was the proposed legislative and policy framework for the care and protection of children, which domesticated the Convention on the Rights of the Child in its entirety.  An important milestone in the legislation was the passing of the Family Safety Act 2013, which provided for the comprehensive protection of families; it gave the mandate to the courts to act promptly when requests for protection orders were made and provided for alternative care for children that a court determined to be at risk.  Samoa had introduced parallel courts, such as the Family Court, the Youth Court, and the Alcohol and Drugs Court, which promoted a therapeutic, preventative and pragmatic approach that recognized the need to address the drivers of crime that ultimately impacted on community safety and well-being.  The new Samoa Development Strategy 2016-2020, aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, identified improvements in the provision and development of health care and health promotion services as a priority, along with the need to understand and respond to vulnerable populations.  Universal primary education had been achieved through the Samoa School Free Grant Scheme which had resulted in increased primary school enrolment and retention, while early childhood and inclusive education remained the Government’s priority.

Questions by the Country Rapporteurs and Committee Experts

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Samoa, congratulated Samoa for passing important pieces of legislation and for ratifying the Optional Protocols, which clearly demonstrated its commitment to children’s rights, and inquired about the reasons which prevented Samoa from withdrawing reservations to the Convention.  Ms. Idrissi asked the delegation about progress in the adoption of the 2013 child protection bill, the amendment of the 2007 law on the children in conflict with the law, the adoption of the list of dangerous occupations, a system in place to ensure coordination of the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, and the intentions concerning the increase of the budget allocated for children’s rights from the current 2.5 per cent of the overall budget.  The Committee requested more detailed information about dissemination of the Convention, especially in schools, among the schoolchildren, professionals who worked with children, children with disabilities, and community and village leaders.

It was very clear that there was ongoing cooperation with civil society, said the Committee Rapporteur and inquired how the Government supported civil society organizations which provided services to the population, such as health, housing and education.  What measures were in place to combat the economic exploitation of children?  Other critical issues in Samoa included the lack of a harmonized definition of childhood, the different age of marriage for boys and girls, and low birth registration rates, which currently stood at only 59 per cent.  Samoa had made great progress in curbing violence against children, such as banning corporal punishment in 2009, and prohibiting incest, and the delegation was asked to provide more information about where the ban on corporal punishment was applicable, measures to prevent sexual violence against children, including raising awareness among the children, improving the detection of sexual violence, ensuring remedial measures were in place, and raising the statute of limitations on crimes of sexual violence against children.

PETER GURAN, Member of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for Samoa, raised the issue of independent monitoring and, taking note of the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution in Samoa, asked how the head of that institution was appointed and how its independence was ensured, whether there were plans in place to support specialisation within this institution to ensure the expertise for children’s rights, and whether the institution received complaints from children or about violations of children’s rights, and if so, what was the process in place.  With regard to general principles of the Convention, in particular the best interest of the child and the right of the child to be heard, Mr. Guran noted that those principles were not fully implemented in the family law or in the labour law, and inquired how they would be better reflected in the new legislation, particularly the child protection bill.  Finally, the Committee Co-Rapporteur asked whether the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Committee’s general comments were translated into Samoan languages.

With regard to the general principle of non-discrimination, an Expert asked the delegation what other measures Samoa could take to end all forms of discrimination against children, particularly discrimination against children with disabilities, and how it could ensure that children with disabilities could fully access their rights.  Experts noted that grandparents often registered children born out of wedlock as their own children in order to avoid stigmatization of both the children and their unwed mother and asked whether such children could know who their biological parents were and have a relationship with them.

Replies by the Delegation

Samoa was on track to fully removing reservations to the Convention; this was the first year in which Samoa was financially able to fully fund the School Grant Scheme and it needed several years to ensure its sustainability.  Samoa was fully committed to removing the reservations it had made to the Convention and providing free universal education to its children; this was fully a question of resources.  Together with the ongoing review of the national children’s policy and action plan, Samoa was reviewing key pieces of its legislation – family, law, gender equality – in order to ensure a cohesive alignment and compliance with the provisions of the Convention.  This review also included an assessment of coordination mechanisms in place to ensure they were adequate and properly funded.  The budget for children’s rights and for the National Human Rights Institution was quite low, but was progressively increasing; the bulk of the national budget was allocated to education and health, which were particularly important for the realization of children’s rights.

The Government collaborated with various partners in its efforts to disseminate the Convention, including the National Human Rights Institution, schools, organizations of persons with disabilities, and others.  Samoa had opted for mainstreaming of children’s rights issues, which were integrated in many other awareness activities.  As part of the wider community development work, it had been recognized that there was a need to work with religious, community and cultural leaders on changing mind-sets and ensuring the understanding and acceptance of the principles and requirements of the Convention.

There was exceptional collaboration in place between the Government and non-governmental organizations in providing support and services to children, and the Government was aware of the need to better support such civil society organizations.  Samoa was a society where family and community environments and networks were particularly valued and they were seen as primary care systems for children.  The work with the private sector was in its infancy; a family safety study was being undertaken this year in order to get more data about children in work.  The study would inform the strategy and progress in moving forward in this area.

Several pieces of legislation which needed to be harmonized with the Convention would be addressed by the Child Care and Protection Bill, which was currently being considered.  Birth registration rates were rather low, and parents tended to register children only when they reached school age; all children were in school and they all possessed a birth certificate.  Measures to improve early birth registration rates were in place, including raising awareness among parents about the importance of birth registration from an early age.  Samoa was working on establishing Youth Councils in each village; at the moment, there were youth representatives in the communities, but the rate of implementation depended on the Government’s human and financial capacity.

The latest incidents of school violence had raised the issue of violence against children in the national debate and conscience.  The Government had undertaken measures to defuse the tensions following the incidents, and was developing collaboration with religious and traditional leaders to tackle the violence against children, including corporal punishment.  A number of non-governmental organizations were actively working with the population on raising awareness about the safety and protection of children, and children with disabilities.  Extending the statute of limitation for acts of violence against children would be included in the next plan of action for children.  Non-governmental organizations also had in place help lines for children in need, and for the wider community.

With regard to the independence of monitoring mechanisms, the delegation said that the appointment of the head of the National Human Rights Institution was carried out by the Cabinet and was merit based.  Samoa did not have a specialized Children’s Ombudsman, but the National Human Rights Institution was empowered to receive complaints from children or others about the violation of children’s rights.  The creation of a separate entity for children would be considered should the current review point to a need for one, but this would have to be carefully balanced against the need for sustainability of all such entities.

Organizations of persons with disabilities put a lot of effort in raising awareness about the rights of children with disabilities, particularly over the past decade or so.  Access of children with disabilities to services in some areas was still a challenge and Samoa was working on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would provide a normative framework for future work.

It was clear that principal obstacles to the improvement of child rearing practices were religious and cultural beliefs, and that was why the absolute priority for the next five years was to raise awareness and educate the population on those issues, with the support of Australia and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Follow-up Questions by the Committee Experts

In a series of a follow-up questions and comments, Committee Experts asked whether children could start school without a birth certificate, how many children were born out of wedlock, and how paternity for those children was established.

With regard to the independent monitoring mechanism, PETER GURAN, Member of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for Samoa, clarified that the Committee did not request a country as small as Samoa to have a separate monitoring mechanism for children’s rights, but was rather interested to learn how the existing National Human Rights Institution ensured it had specialization for children’s rights – for example, a person dedicated to children – and how it received complaints from children, which was particularly important in light of Samoa’s recent ratification of the Optional Protocol on communication procedures.

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Samoa, asked whether the Child Protection and Care Bill would be adopted by the end of this year, and also asked how coordination worked between the umbrella ministry and how vertical and horizontal coordination was established.  Did the State have a support structure in place for children who were victims of violations?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding, a delegate said that a child must have birth registration in order to start school, and explained that since the introduction of the school grant scheme, the work on birth registration had been accelerated.  The possession of a birth certificate prior to starting school was a policy and not a law, the priority was to have children in school.  No information was available on the number of children born out of wedlock.  It was clear that anything to do with the promotion and protection of children’s rights needed specialized skills and processes and the National Human Rights Institution was currently building its institutional capacity to be in compliance with the Paris Principles and to be able to monitor the protection and promotion of the rights of groups such as persons with disabilities or children.  The Government had in place positive parenting programmes and awareness raising about the negative consequences of corporal punishment, and was widening the coverage and scope of such programmes with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Government of Australia.

The Government attached particular importance to the promotion and protection of children’s rights, and to protecting children from all forms of violence, in particular violence in schools, including from corporal punishment.  The high level of school violence recently, while unfortunate, had raised the visibility of the issue within the Cabinet and had led to wider conversation about school violence in communities, families, and schools, about disciplining children, and about the consequences of the use of corporal punishment.  The Minister of Women, Community and Social Development reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Government to ending this practice and protecting children from violence.

Questions by the Committee Experts

PETER GURAN, Member of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for Samoa, said that corporal punishment in the country was an issue of concern and asked about the main obstacles to promoting a safe family environment and banning corporal punishment in the family setting.  What were the plans with regard to creating an alternative care system for children?  The majority of adoptions were inter-country, mainly to New Zealand or Australia, and only 10 per cent of children were adopted nationally; what were the reasons for this?  In terms of access to health institutions, geography was a major obstacle for children and the Committee Co-Rapporteur wondered about the plans to resolve this situation.  Rates of breastfeeding during the first six months were increasing, but the issue remained in reconciling it with work since paid maternity leave was three months only.  The delegation was asked about the rate of teenage pregnancies, which was on the increase, and access to information on contraception, access to abortion, which was prohibited except in case of rape, and about teenage suicide.

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Samoa, said that Samoa had taken clear steps to ensure universal primary education, and to increase access to secondary education, and asked about particular measures undertaken that targeted school drop outs, and the measures to curb violence in schools.  What measures were in place to ensure that parents did not send their children to work as sellers or hawkers late at night, and measures to protect children in street situations?

With regard to the situation of children with disabilities in the country, the delegation was asked about obstacles to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and to the removal of physical barriers; and steps undertaken to ensure inclusive education, in particular for children with mental or intellectual disabilities.  What measures were in place to protect children with disabilities from disasters, and to ensure access to water and sanitation services for children with disabilities, especially in rural areas?

Another Expert took up the question of drug and alcohol abuse and, said that while Samoa had in place good policies and intentions, implementation was a problem.  What was being done to support young people suffering from substance abuse, and to provide services and support to children who were victims of abuse?  How was health provided to populations in rural areas and did the package of services include the prevention of transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child?

Samoa had acknowledged that suicide was a problem so the delegation was asked about specific measures Samoa had undertaken to address this issue and implement various plans and policies that were in place.  What resources were available for a teenager suffering from suicidal thoughts and who could he or she turn to, not only in the non-governmental or private sector, but in the public sector as well?

Experts asked about concrete efforts to reduce poverty and hardship at the community and family levels, and in particular to reduce child poverty.  What challenges had been identified in the implementation of the Strategy for Development of Samoa and the creation of more employment and livelihood opportunities?  What support was provided to low-income families with children, particularly those living in deprived areas?  What was the progress update on the implementation of the five-year community development plan launched last year?  Which steps did Samoa intend to take to improve the situation of children in migration situation and so better guarantee the enjoyment of children’s rights?

On juvenile justice, Experts welcomed the legislation and laws and noted that their implementation was a problem.  They asked whether the period of detention in remand was the same for children and adults, about measures in place to prevent the long detention of children, and about maximum sentences that could be handed down to minors.  Juvenile justice was a team work, a team effort between the police, social workers, judges and prosecutors, an Expert said and asked about the offences committed by children: the Committee knew there were children in detention and pre-trial detention, but there was no information on which offences they committed.  It seemed that only boys were detained, so what happened to girls who committed crimes?  The State party had previously reported the low participation rate in early childhood care and education, and Experts asked whether there was any improvement in this area.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Committee Chairperson, said that sexual intercourse for gain or reward was criminalized and the delegation was asked about the definition of “gain” or “reward” and how this provision applied to children.  Mr. Mezmur congratulated Samoa for a number of positive developments in the family law, and asked about the system of alternative care.

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to questions that Committee Experts raised about the situation of children and people with disabilities, a delegate reiterated the commitment of Samoa to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and said that there were regular budget allocations for the engagement of children with disabilities in sports activities in mainstream schools.  Samoa was committed to inclusive education and the policy did not make a difference based on the type of disability or the geographical region.  The building code was being reviewed and submissions were being submitted based on accessibility requirements defined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the needs of persons with disabilities.  The needs of all children, including children with disabilities, were included in the National Disaster Preparedness Plan, and their rights and needs were also included in the national climate change policy.  The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was a priority and a task force had been established to that end, with the aim to meet the ratification requirements by December 2016.  Samoa was truly committed to the rights of persons with disabilities and with that in mind, had put in place policies and laws, provided resources, and had opened a multi-million dollar disability centre, unique among the Pacific island States.

Samoa recognized that more needed to be done in the area of mental health and understood better the challenges and costs of inaction.  The Ministry of Women also recognized the importance of violence-free homes as a precursor to young people’s mental health.  Space had been allocated to mental health in the newly constructed hospital, but was facing challenges in attracting mental health experts.  The establishment of the Alcohol and Drug Court also contributed to better understanding of the issues involved.  There was a need to better understand the drivers of suicide and Samoa was looking forward to the report currently being prepared by the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa.  The new alcohol policy recently developed by the Ministry of Health highlighted issues and the importance of social responsibility.  It was important to say that mental health had gained prominence on the agenda in Samoa, and, with disability issues, was the second most important area of engagement for the National Human Rights Institution.

Responding to questions concerning difficulties in recruiting child psychologists and psychiatrists, a delegate explained that Samoa, just like other small island States in the region, faced a great challenge ensuring that the right expertise was in place and was suffering significant brain drain of specialists.

Around 80 per cent of the population absolutely believed that corporal punishment worked and that it was an obligation of Christian parents to so punish their children; therefore, the Government believed that the focus must be on working with community, religious and traditional leaders in changing the beliefs and mind-sets.  The aim was to reduce to 50 per cent the number of people who believed in corporal punishment, and then pass the law banning corporal punishment from all settings.

A delegate explained the low number of domestic adoptions – only 10 per cent of all adoptions – saying that the society believed in “it takes a village to raise a child”, so many children were being adopted informally and were usually not registered as adoptions with the relevant authorities.  The pending Child Care and Protection Bill would set up the alternative care system through two streams: the extended family members and through licensed care providers.  The work was ongoing on the quality assurance framework for licensed care providers.  There was only one case of a child placed under the care of the Ministry; the child had been placed confidentially with family members, and the Ministry was monitoring the wellbeing of the child.  Samoa was not yet a party to the Hague Convention; due to limitations in the capacity of ratification, Samoa’s focus was on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols; the next in line was the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Samoa aimed to ratify by the end of the year.  The Hague Convention and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment would come on the agenda later, when Samoa had the capacity to fulfil the requirements.  There were only a few cases of abandoned children and they were cared for by the Samoa Victims Support Group; in some instances, parents who were temporarily unable to care for their children would leave them in shelters for a period of time, and once their situation improved, would take back their children.

The National Breastfeeding Policy continued to be implemented in the workplace, which, inter alia, required the employers to provide breastfeeding places in the workplace and offer flexible working hours; maternity leave provisions in the private sector were increasing although they were not yet at the standard.  The law allowed for very limited circumstances in which abortion was legal, but the case law was in place which allowed victims of rape to legally access abortion.  The Samoan society held very strong religious beliefs and was not in favour of legalising abortion and bringing the law in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education was still to be included in the curriculum; the delay was because Samoa was currently focused on other priorities such as teaching quality, education governance, and others.  Social aspects of the sexual education were being approached through supporting and developing the skills of parents, and through programmes such as Mothers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Young Couples, and others, which aimed as equipping parents with skills necessary to discuss sexual education within the family rather than in school.  Samoa would continue with this approach until its formal education system could incorporate sexual and reproductive health as a mainstream subject in the curriculum.

School drop outs, particularly among boys in secondary school, was an important challenge in the country.  Data on this phenomena was lacking, including on the linkages between dropping out and sexual and other forms of violence in school, and a report was being commissioned which would gather evidence and inform policy.  Early childhood education services at the moment were community-based and were delivered by non-governmental organizations.  Samoa was nearing the completion of the National Early Childhood Education Policy, which aimed to include its provision into the formal education system; once this was achieved, early childhood education would be subject to the same quality assurance framework as any other forms of formal education.  With regard to the right of children to be heard, a delegate said that in the Samoan society, children were precious, but they were there to be seen and not heard; there was a need to address the societal beliefs in order to effectively encourage children to be involved in democratic processes.

With regard to questions raised on the standard of living, the delegation said that development, economic growth and job creation were top priorities for the Government.  The focus for the next five years was to ensure policy cohesion across the board in order to support job creation, education and human resources development, attracting foreign investments and managing the related risks.  According to the 2011 census, 27 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line.  At the moment, there was no welfare system in the country and the elderly were the only population group that received direct payments; other vulnerable groups were supported through various programmes and projects funded by donors.

Replies by the Delegation

In terms of the rights of migrants, the focus was on the Samoan migrant workers going overseas and mainly providing horticultural services in Australia and New Zealand, particularly in supporting their travels, return and reintegration into the community.

On juvenile justice, the delegation said that as per the Young Offenders Act 2007, courts applied the fast track system for youth offenders, and their remand or stay in custody could not exceed one week.  Youth offenders were tried by Youth Courts that could only impose custodial sentences if there was no alternative; in such cases, the sentence must be served in a juvenile facility.  The new Sentencing Bill 2015 and the Criminal Procedure Bill, which had not yet entered into force, defined that young offenders must be treated as children and sentenced in accordance with the provisions of the Convention; the Young Offenders Act of 2007 would be amended to reflect this.

In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked when the new legislation would enter into force, whether youth in conflict with the law were provided with legal assistance and representation, and what was the situation with detention facilities for girls.

Answering, the delegation said that there was a dedicated Youth Court, with a very experienced youth judge.  The priority was on non-custodial remand.  Samoa was struggling with custodial areas for juveniles due to the geography of the country, and because of a lack of system of classification of juvenile offenders.  The National Human Rights Institution reported on the situation of detention twice a year.  More needed to be done in the area of juvenile justice.  The work was on developing infrastructure and the system of implementation of the new legislation when it would be passed; it was expected that the Sentencing Bill 2015, the Criminal Procedure Bill and amendments to the Evidence Code would enter into force by the end of this year.

The labour and employment relations legislation was in place, labour inspectors were working and the International Labour Organization provided them with the required support.  The pending Child Care and Protection Bill would address the issue of child labour, but of more concern was addressing the drivers of child labour, so specific strategies to address the underlying causes and provide support to families of child vendors were being developed.  In addition, Samoa was ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and reviewing the laws to ensure compliance with this treaty.

Follow-up Questions by the Committee Experts

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Samoa, asked about the measures to support children in street situations, and what happened to children whose mothers were sentenced to prison.

Another Expert asked about the plans to extend maternity leave from the current six weeks, and whether Samoa intended to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention 183 on maternity protection.

A delegate said that Samoa had a long list of international treaties it wished to ratify, but was also aware that it first had to work on developing the capacity to actually do justice to the obligations it had signed up to.  There was no clear legislative or policy guideline that provided for children whose mothers were detained, so the newly set up correctional authorities had discretional authority over incarcerated persons; the work was ongoing on developing guidelines and policies in order to have very clear rules for specific situations.  The situation so far varied, some children were in prison with their mothers, while others were separated.

Concluding Remarks

PETER GURAN, Member of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for Samoa, thanked the delegation for a very constructive discussion.  Samoa was on the right way to guarantee, protect and promote children’s rights, and efforts must continue to ensure that legislation was in full compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The priorities were in the sector of education, in fighting high levels of violence, and in health.  It was important to ensure that the resources were available, not only financial but more importantly human resources and expertise.

FAIMALOTOA KIKA STOWERS, Minister for Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa, reiterated the commitment of Samoa to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and said that Samoa was looking forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations to enhance its work in this area.  Ms. Stowers suggested that the Committee gave core questions in advance in order to facilitate the proceedings, especially to countries which had technological obstacles in accessing information from afar.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and expressed gratitude for the recent ratification of the three Optional Protocols to the Convention.

__________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Source