9 Dec 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

12:18 pm on 9 December 2021

Fishing meeting disappointing says WWF; call for children's commission; and joy for Samoa's bingo players

Nature group disappointed with fishery meeting

The World Wide Fund for nature says this year's meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission has concluded with very little progress made on measures to manage and protect the world's most lucrative fishery.

The fund's tuna programme manager for the region Bubba Cook said while there was some progress on areas such as crew welfare and shark conservation, by and large the meeting ended with the status quo.

Cook said the impacts of Covid-19 and the difficulty of online meetings might be a factor but the commission needs to get its act together.

"You know we can't continue to do this. The progress and the approach of the commission is going to have to change. We are fortunate in that the biological health of the stocks in the Pacific are good at the moment," he said.

Cook said fishermen are reporting having to travel further and fish for longer to get their catch.

Samoa judge wants Children's Commission

The recently appointed Senior Supreme Court Justice in Samoa wants a Children's Commissioner established to take on the task of combating children's issues.

The Samoa Observer reports that Senior Justice Vui Clarence Nelson made the suggestion in a briefing paper submitted to the Cabinet last month.

In the report, Justice Vui said it's time for children's issues to be given the importance they deserve.

He said this can be achieved through the establishment of the office of a National Children's Commissioner responsible for all matters affecting children.

Justice Nelson added he intends to pursue the matter with the Government through the Minister of the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development.

"There are a number of other pressing issues such as the passage of the long awaited Child Care and Protection Bill," he wrote.

The bill is a comprehensive legal framework drafted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to protect children.

In relation to criminal responsibility for 10-year-olds, the Crimes Act 2013 notes a child's age between 10 and 12 is exempt from criminal responsibility, unless the prosecution can establish that he or she knows that the act or omission was morally wrong or that it was contrary to law.

Justice Nelson said there is a need for the Government to increase support for vulnerable children including legislation for victims of violence and abuse.

He said addressing matters such as the harmful forms of child labour and children living on the street situation was highlighted in a recent United Nations Report.

Many of the issues were raised in Samoa's Universal Periodic Review in the United Nations Human Rights Council last month.

Apia govt allows for longer bingo playing

The Samoan government has eased some of the State of Emergency conditions for Christmas.

TV1Samoa reports that Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has said that bingo games and bar opening and closing times have been reviewed.

Bingo games will now be allowed to run until 11pm nightly except Sundays.

Samoa's prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, addresses the UN Human Rights Council in a session for her country's Universal Periodic Review, 4 November, 2021.

Samoa's prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, addresses the UN Human Rights Council in a session for her country's Universal Periodic Review, 4 November, 2021. Photo: Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Nightclubs have been allowed to stay open longer.

Fiame says Cabinet is still looking at other areas of the State of Emergency and will review the orders later this month.

Meanwhile, Samoa Police has reportedly collected 65,000 tālā in fines since the order was initiated in early 2020.

Work extended on renewable energy projects

The Asian Development Bank and the Vanuatu government are extending their work on renewable energy projects for the islands of Malekula and Espiritu Santo.

The Vanuatu Energy Access Project will help build a 400-kilowatt hydropower plant and extend the two islands' electricity grids to deliver sustainable, affordable power.

The latest funding of 7.2 million dollars will be used to upgrade power distribution networks from a single wire to a three-phase system.

This will prevent the need for future upgrades when demand increases and will deliver safer power due to an improved fault detection mechanism.

The project began in 2017 with 15 million dollars of funding from the development bank, the Strategic Climate Fund, and the Vanuatu Government.

Call for more Pacific workers to protect families

A Pacific provider of sexual violence support in New Zealand wants more Pacific workers to be employed under the government's plan to tackle family harm.

A new 25-year strategy has detailed 43 steps to address domestic violence within Aotearoa and improve services for Maori and Pacific communities.

The General Manager at Wellington Rape Crisis, Kyla Rayner, said it was an exciting step towards transformation.

She said there are not enough Pasifika in the workforce and not enough people are accessing services to get help.

Ms Rayner hopes the taboo for Pacific peoples to speak up about family harm and sexual violence changes.

Samoa minister orders hold on new appointment

The appointment of Samoa's former Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, as Deputy President of the Land and Titles Court has been put on hold.

The Samoa Observer reports the Minister of Justice, Matamua Seumanu Vasati Pulefana, has ordered that "no further preparations" be made on the appointment.

Matamua said she is unable to find specific provisions in the Land and Titles Act 2020 that caters for the proposed appointment.

Faimalomatumua handed in his resignation after the final count of votes for the recent six by-elections, effective immediately.

The Head of State makes the appointment under advice from the Judicial Commission.

Faimalomatumua said it was the right time to move on and let others take the helm.

"Now that the general election and the by-elections are done, there is basically nothing more for me to aspire to as Electoral Commissioner," he told Newsline Samoa last week.