The SPC Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC/RRRT) in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat(PIFS) will this week conduct the 2011 'Regional Human Rights Training Workshop for Lawyers and Magistrates'.

The training will begin Tuesday the 1st and conclude Friday the 4th of November at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji.

The Workshop will host 24 participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshal Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The purpose of the workshop is to provide training to Pacific lawyers and magistrates on international human rights conventions and standards, and how these can be applied to domestic law, policy and practice.

The training will assist participants to apply international covenants, customary international law and case law precedents. It will improve their knowledge and ability to monitor human rights at a national level. It will increase their understanding of procedure, evidence and remedies in human rights cases, and improve their ability to litigate or advocate for the protection of universal human rights within their domestic jurisdictions.

This year's training will focus on areas of need in the Pacific and include topics such as Climate Change and Human Rights, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence legislative reform, HIV and Human Rights, Advocacy Strategy and litigation on Human Rights, Equality and Substantive Equality and PIC reporting to the UN Universal Periodic Review process.

Speaking to Workshop participants the Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General Fong Toy emphasised the value of skills being taught in this year's program. "Our region is also taking a stand on the issue of sexual and gender based violence" Toy said, "I am therefore very glad to see that the issue of sexual gender based violence is an area of special focus in this workshop."

"Make the most of the opportunities this workshop provides to deepen your understanding of international human rights law and its relevance to the promotion and defence of human rights in your own countries" Toy encouraged participants. "In this world of increasing globalisation, the role of international law and treaties will also increase in terms of their relevance to, and impact on, legal practice and public policy development at the national level" he said.

Explaining the value of this regionally focussed course Lionel Angimea from SPC Regional Rights Resource Team said, "Lawyers are the frontline people to advocate for human rights. It is lawyers along with other groups that advance human rights knowledge." The regions lawyers need to be skilled up so that Pacific islanders will come to "know their rights and the services they can access" says Angimea.

The SPC Regional Rights Resource Team has been holding annual regional human rights training workshops for lawyers and magistrates since 2004. SPC/RRRT has trained lawyers and magistrates from all the Pacific Islands Forum countries. The impacts from previous SPC/RRRT trainings have been far reaching and include:

- Increased ratification or signing of human rights treaties in the region
- Increased application of international human rights standards in the development of legislation in Pacific island countries
- Increased citation of international human rights conventions in domestic legal proceedings in Pacific island countries
- The creation of a Pacific Islands Lawyers for Human Rights Network (PILHRN)