Participants of a human rights training conducted by the Fiji Police Force for the Samoa Ministry of Police and other law and justice stakeholders in Samoa this week. The training focuses mainly on UNCAT – the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Acts of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Photo credit: UNDP Samoa

The Fiji Police Force is partnering with Samoa’s Ministry of Police to carry out a five-day training this week, in a bid to enhance access to justice for arrested and detained persons, and prevent torture in police custody. The training, in international human rights and best practices for Samoa’s Police Service, is facilitated by trainers from the Fiji Police Force. The training is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the British High Commission.

“I am delighted that the British High Commission in Apia has been able to contribute funding to make this training possible as one of the first projects since its opening this year. I hope this will be the first of many examples of work which the United Kingdom and Samoa will do together to promote their shared values,” said British High Commissioner to Samoa, Mr. David Ward.

This training follows a regional Access to Justice training carried out in Fiji by the Fiji Police Force in 2018, which the Samoa Police Service attended. The current training will enhance the sustainability of the knowledge and skills gained at the previous training. In addition, it expects to boost the knowledge and skills of a further 25 participants from the Samoan Police Service (6 women and 19 men) in the international human rights framework, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Acts of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and international best practices for implementing UNCAT. The participants will be given a demonstration of initiatives adopted in Fiji, such as the first-hour procedure, video-recorded interviews and investigative interviewing techniques, including interviewing vulnerable witnesses.

The UNCAT has almost universal ratification, with 169 State parties as of January 2020. The Samoa Police Service has been upscaling its mechanism and operation to prevent torture since its accession to UNCAT on 28 March 2019. It is due to submit its first UNCAT report in April this year.

“This training marks a significant step in our efforts to ensure that all arrested and detained persons are treated in line with UNCAT and international standards. We are most grateful to the Fiji Police Force for sharing lessons learned and best practices adopted since ratification of the Convention in 2016,” said Samoa’s Police Commissioner, Mr. Fuiava’ili’ili Egon Keil.

The Fiji Police Force has been engaging in training of trainers in international human rights and UNCAT in partnership with UNDP since Fiji’s ratification of the Convention in 2016, to ensure the rights of persons in custody are upheld.

The Fiji Police Force has also been part of the sector-wide initiative entitled, the Pilot of the First-Hour Procedure and Video-Recorded Interviews, in partnership with UNDP. The force trained 40 trainers in international human rights and early access to justice, and those trainers have undertaken human rights training for their colleagues in the force and facilitated the regional training in 2018 for members of the police forces of Nauru, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu.

“The Fiji Police Force is pleased to share our experience of implementing UNCAT with our Samoan neighbours and to learn from the Samoan Police Service of their efforts to implement the Convention as forces across the region seek to enhance access to justice for all those in our custody,” said Fiji Police Force’s Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Itendra Nair, who is one of the facilitators of the training.

“Regional cooperation and knowledge sharing in the Pacific is demonstrated to be the most effective modality to upscale systems and practices with mutual support based on strengths and challenges faced. I am delighted to host the team from Fiji for this training, which can open the door to further exchange and collaboration to strengthen our commitment under UNCAT,” said UNDP Multi Country Office in Samoa’s Resident Representative, Mr. Jorn Sorensen.

The Sustainable Development Goals integrate the importance of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels as an enabler for development and an outcome of development in its own right as Goal 16. The partnerships strengthened in the security sector initiatives aim to enhance sustainable development in the Pacific with particular focus on achieving Goal 16.

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