Consultations on a rights body for the Cook Islands
Graphic: Two boys on a rugby field, Cook Islands
Community members and government officials from across the Cook Islands have had their say about the value of establishing an NHRI.
A wide range of community members and government officials from across the Cook Islands recently took part in consultations about the value of establishing a national human rights institution (NHRI) for the Pacific Island country.
The consultations – held in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Mangaia from 18-24 March 2017 – brought together political leaders, government agencies, traditional leaders, religious leaders and local people for a discussion about the unique role of an NHRI and what model would be most appropriate for the Cook Islands.
For example, Samoa's national human rights institution (internationally accredited as 'A status') is based on an Ombuds model, while Fiji (not yet accredited) has established a multi-member Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission.
The consultations were jointly facilitated by team leader Rosslyn Noonan (APF NHRI Expert Consultant), Romulo Nayacalevu (Regional Rights Resource Team) and Ashley Bowe (OHCHR/UNDP), following a request from the Government of the Cook Islands.
APF members and international experts reflect on the unique elements that enable NHRIs to promote and protect fundamental human rights.
Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Paul Allsworth, expressed his gratitude to the team for their service and said that the mission would assist the Cooks Islands with "streamlining our core services under international standards".
He noted that the Ministry was responsible for coordinating the country's reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Ms Noonan thanked the Government of the Cook Islands for the well-organised program and the comprehensive contributions provided by all stakeholders who took part in the consultations.
"It has been a wonderful and exciting week for all of us meeting so many people," she said.
"I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Mayors of Aitutaki and Mangaia and the people of those islands, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Acting Secretary and staff, for their warm hospitality and support during our brief mission to the Cook Islands".
The Cooks Islands, located in the South Pacific, are home to 21,000 people on 15 islands.
A fundamental role of the APF is to support governments in the region to establish independent national human rights institutions that comply with the standards set out in the Paris Principles.
In recent months, the Government of Tuvalu has prepared draft legislation to establish an NHRI for consideration by the parliament.
Date: 9 May 2017
- Two boys on a rugby field, Cook Islands - spentrails, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2rTFZhQ