29 Sep 2022

Human rights data for Pacific nations now available

4:27 pm on 29 September 2022

For the first time, data on how well Pacific countries are respecting human rights is now available.

Logo for HRMI in the Pacific.

Photo: Facebook

The information was collected by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) and it on issues such as the climate crisis, indigenous sovereignty, indigenous lands, cultural rights, and violence.

Pacific data co-lead Dr Seuta'afili Patrick Thomsen said the idea of how to collect the data came through a workshop attended by Pacific advocates.

"The Pacific participants from various countries and backgrounds delivered a very clear message to the HRMI.

They wanted a different set of questions around some of the issues that felt most pertinent to Pacific countries and people.

As such they identified those important areas, they felt were important to collect data around that resonated with our people in the region," he said.

Thomsen hopes these measurements will be developed further as they continue to gather data, throughout the Pacific region.

The purpose of the HRMI came from its Co-founder Anne-Marie Brook who said she hopes governments, NGOs and the general public will be able to use the data.

"Some of the advice I got from the directors at the OECD is to have data, in a more analytical framework.

For example, if I was to talk about an anecdote from a journalist being arrested for criticising the government, that wouldn't be allowed but including data on press freedom in a country would be permitted," she said.

The data fairly compare states to what their legally obligated human rights expectations are and try to measure who is doing the best they can with the resources they have.

The company has around 200 countries in its current database.

For political rights, the company covers eight different rights, assembly, and association, opinion, and expression, political participation, the freedoms for arbitrary and political imprisonment forced disappearance, extraditional killing, and the death penalty or torture treatments.

Co-Founder of the initiative Chad Clay said the only way to gather accurate data evidence on human rights issues, is to gather it from experts in the field.

"The best data available is from the research of lawyers, advocates, journalists, and others whose very work rotates around monitoring and understanding the frequency of civil political rights in their countries.

We do this through a secure anonymous online survey and as of today we have scores for around 40 countries on each of these rights," Clay said.

The Pacific module data comes from this same expert survey approach but with different questioning thanks to the help of Pacific advocates.