Issues involving the children of Samoa and the Pacific should be addressed on the international level hence the importance of Samoa’s seat on the United Nations (U.N.) Committee on the Rights of the Child.
This is according to Supreme Court Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson, who is humbled to be re-elected on the C.R.C. from 2019-2023.
The first Samoan and Pacific Islander to sit on the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Justice Vui said it is an honour and privilege to be re-elected.
“I’m humbled to be appointed and to be addressing vital issues about the children of Samoa and the world with my counterparts from all over the world,” said Vui.
The 17th session of the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention took place in New York on 29 June 2018. This was where the U.N. General Assembly voted on the committee members for the election of nine members to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 28 February 2019.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child comprises 18 independent experts, persons of high moral character and recognised competence in the field of human rights.
According to the C.R.C. website, the Committee comprises in a body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties.
“It also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.”
According to the results of the elections, Justice Vui received 155 votes.
“One good thing about having a seat on this Committee, it has made other parts of the world more aware of issues pertaining to the Pacific children."
“There are some problems we have in the Pacific that is felt more keenly in the Pacific than other parts of the world."
“They are not unique, the problems we have are the same with the children everywhere, but there are different scales,” said Justice Vui.
According to Justice Vui, one issue that makes the Pacific stand out is incest cases involving children.
“It’s not so much a big issue worldwide and that is my experience, but in the Pacific it is a very big issue."
“Incest falls under sexual offending against children by adults."
“A lot of these incest cases involve father and daughters in the Pacific, but sexual offending in a general sense is a worldwide problem,” said Vui.
“Incest is one form of sexual offending, but sexual offending in itself is a worldwide problem."
“How do we address it? Well the Court tries to address it by saying the things we say and imposing penalties that we impose to try and deter offenders. That’s our part.”
Justice Vui says people who offend against children are not normal.
“They have psychological problems, they probably have mental diseases that are under undiagnosed, and they have behavioral issues on what is appropriate behavior and what is not.
“And of course the thing about all of that is that we send them to jail, but we need to do more while they’re in jail,” said Justice Vui.