Human trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime, illegal fishing and climate change are some of the major issues on the agenda at the 27th Pacific Judicial Conference in Apia.
The four-day conference at the Taumeasina Island Resort is attended by Chief Justices, Deputy Chief Justices and Judges from the Pacific, New Zealand and United States of America. The theme for the conference this year is “Addressing emerging issues in the Pacific”.
Samoa’s Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava'asu'e Falefatu Sapolu who was accompanied by his good Lady, Ili Sapolu, welcomed the delegates.
The conference was established in 1991, is held biennially and its members’ jurisdictions rotate in hosting the conference.
“It has provided us with the opportunity to exchange views and information and to discuss issues of neutral interest and common concerns relating to the law and the administration of justice within our region.
“It has also given us the opportunity to interact amongst ourselves and renew old contacts and establish new ones,” said the Chief Justice.
His Honour indicated that in line with the theme of the conference, the issues of transnational crimes, the impact of climate change and marine littering, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, the use of therapeutic and specialist court, use of technology in the work of the courts, and the continuing need for judicial independence will take center stage.
The Chief Justice also acknowledged experts from Samoa and overseas who will give presentations on the issues highlighted in the conference programme.
Governor of Samoa’s Central Bank, Maiava Atalina Enari will present on money laundering from the perspective of the Pacific, and regional efforts to combat the issue, while Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil will present on transnational crime.
Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who is Acting Prime Minister, emphasised the importance of the Pacific Islands working together in her speech to the conference participants.
“Last year, the Pacific Forum Leaders which was themed the Blue Pacific our sealed islands, our security through sustainable development, management and conservation, which speaks to the very heart of Pacific Regionalism.
“Exercising of common identity and purpose linked to the ocean has been critical for protecting and promoting the potential of our shared Pacific Ocean. Fundamental to peace and security in the Pacific is the rule of law.”
Fiame commended the Pacific Chief Justices in promoting Pacific regionalism through the conference theme, which focused on emerging issues in the Pacific.
The issues no doubt present unique challenges in the way the judiciary responds legally and judicially.
“The challenges we face but our responses are guided by many factors, such as our laws and resources and capacity,” she added.
The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi was the master of ceremony. The conference will end on Thursday.