16 Dec 2013

Samoa Human Rights body will have limited jurisdiction

5:15 am on 16 December 2013

The head of the new Samoa Human Rights Institution says while his jurisdiction is limited, he can launch an inquiry if it's suspected widespread, systemic violations of human rights are occurring.

After an official launch last week the Samoa ombudsman's office now doubles as the caretaker of human rights.

The ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma says he is tasked with the promotion of human rights in the broadest sense and does not currently have the mandate to investigate and resolve individual complaints.

But Maiava says he can act if a pattern emerges.

"Individual complaints could form the basis for him to conduct an inquiry to see if there is widespread, systemic or entrenched violations of human rights, and from there he can take further steps under the Act."

Maiava says he can make determinations that a violation of human rights has occurred and recommend that victims are entitled to compensation for any loss or damage suffered.