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13 December 2013 Samoa's National Human Rights Institution Officially Launched

On 10th December 2013, Samoa’s National Human Rights Institution was officially launched. That date was chosen as 10th December is International Human Rights Day, a day that celebrates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The keynote address was delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, the Honourable Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo. Other speeches were given by the Minister for the Office of the Ombudsman Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Lei’ataua; Ms Rosslyn Noonan representing the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF); Erik Friberg of the Regional Office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Lizbeth Cullity of UNDP Samoa. The Ombudsman also delivered a speech of appreciation, which was followed by a reading by the President of Nuanua O Le Alofa (NOLA) of the UN Secretary-General’s message for International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Following this formal part of the ceremony there was a screening of the winning performance of the TV talent show Samoa Rights Taleni, which was created by the Office of the Ombudsman and ran throughout November and December. The winning performers were the EFKS Youth Group from Iva in Savai’i.

The launch was concluded by performances by the Prison Performance Group, constituted of prisoners and police officers. Performances included dance and song, and a dramatic re-enactment of the legend of King Malietoa, as depicted in the new logo of the Office of the Ombudsman.

In the evening, the APF, UNDP, and UN OHCHR hosted a reception to celebrate both the launch and Human Rights Day. The launch and the reception were both a great success, well attended by people from all different communities of Samoa, from government ministers to prisoners’ families to disability rights advocates.