New Zealand and Vanuatu co-hosted the 27th PILON annual meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu, from 5-9 December 2008. The meeting was a valuable opportunity for senior law officers of the Pacific to discuss and progress significant legal sector issues.

Delegates from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu attended the meeting. Delegates from the following observer members also attended the meeting: the Commonwealth Secretariat; the International Committee of the Red Cross; the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; the Pacific Islands Maritime Law Association; Pacific Legal Information Institute (PacLII); Secretariat of the Pacific Community; and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Members agreed to formal outcomes and work plan for the PILON Secretariat 2009:

Key issues

Key issues discussed by Members at the meeting included extradition standards, legal resources challenges and legal training opportunities in the region. Members also discussed international prisoner transfer arrangements, accession to and implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Some of the papers from the meeting are available for download below.

Extradition—Members agreed to encourage their governments to consider ways in which the extradition process could be streamlined and expedited to harmonise standards (Extradition Discussion Paper [DOC];  Attachment A - Extradition relationships and evidentiary [XLS]

International prisoner transfers—Members agreed to encourage their governments to consider the merits of participating in a multilateral prisoner transfer scheme (International transfer of Sentenced Persons Discussion Paper [DOC])

South Pacific Precursor Control Forum (SPPCF)—Members supported the SPPCF’s activities, and agreed to encourage their governments to accede to the United Nations Drug Conventions (SPPCF Discussion Paper [DOC])

International Criminal Court—Members noted the Secretariat's presentation on assistance available to accede to and implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The International Committee of the Red Cross presented on development with the ICC and encouraged accession (International Criminal Court Assistance Paper [DOC])

Members discussed a number of other items, including: legal issues relating to traditional knowledge; the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions; resources available to meet Pacific legal research needs; Pacific legal training, capacity building, exchange and attachment opportunities; Pacific prosecutors meetings for 2009; proceeds of crime issues; technical assistance programs available to Pacific island countries; Samoa’s Law and Justice Sector Plan; model legal professional conduct rules for the Pacific; South Pacific Precursor Control Forum; and a review of legislation supporting Pacific Patrol Boats requested by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Secretariat.

Other meeting documents

Secretariat and work plan

PILON members discussed the future of the PILON Secretariat. The Australian Attorney-General’s Department has hosted the Secretariat on an interim basis since February 2007. AGD agreed to continue in this role in 2009 until a permanent host can be identified and funded in a Pacific island country.

In 2009 the Secretariat was tasked to perform a number of tasks including to:

* Begin work on establishing a model legislation database for members
* Conduct a stock-take of current legal training, secondment, exchange and attachment activities relevant to members
* Develop a proposal on professional development for Pacific law officers
* Identify common themes and challenges of Pacific law offices
* Work with the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, the South Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to consider the legislative implications of the Pacific Patrol Boat Project, and
* Report to the Forum Regional Security Committee on progress on harmonisation of extradition legislation.

The 2009 Secretariat Work Plan

26th Annual Meeting (2007) - Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The 26th annual PILON meeting was held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, from 6 to 10 December 2007. The meeting was the inaugural meeting under the new title, as agreed by members at the 25th meeting in Kiribati in February 2007.

The meeting was attended by Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The meeting was also attended by the following observer members: the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Pacific International Maritime Law Association.

The key issue for consideration at the meeting centred on a discussion paper titled Establishing the Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network (PILON) as a Regional Organisation, which was prepared by the Secretariat. The paper outlines a number of proposals for formalisation of the organisation and presented a Charter and Rules of Procedure.

Members agreed to continue as an association of senior law officers of the Pacific and adopt a Charter and Rules of Procedure. The Charter and Rules of Procedure establish a structure and govern the operation of the organisation. PILON will continue to be supported by a Secretariat, which will be hosted by the Australian Government Attorney‑General’s Department in Canberra until the 27th meeting.

Strategic Plan
The meeting endorsed the development of a Strategic Plan which focuses on the following areas:

- Law and justice sector capacity building, training and mentoring
- Good governance measures in coordination with the work of regional organisations and member countries, including legislative developments
- Focus on the particular vulnerabilities of small island States in the Pacific, and
- Improve information-sharing among member countries.

The plan is to be developed by the interim Secretariat in the coming months and will be used to guide the future work of PILON.

Work Plan
PILON adopted general principles for a work plan, to be finalised by the interim Secretariat for endorsement by PILON members. The work plan will guide the interim Secretariat and the Executive Committee in the coming year and includes the following:

International Criminal Court – The meeting considered the issues associated with countries in the Pacific acceding to the Rome Statute. Members agreed that those Pacific nations not yet a party should consider accession, and tasked the Secretariat to identify technical assistance to help with the implementation.

Extradition and Mutual Assistance – Following the review of a Secretariat background paper on extradition and mutual assistance and its tables of extradition relations, PILON established a committee to examine the evidentiary basis for extradition and mutual assistance models and to examine a means of facilitating extradition and mutual assistance across the region with a view to harmonising standards where possible.

Training and Capacity building – The Secretariat will identify gaps in training and capacity building in the region with a view to establishing new programs and opportunities for exchange and attachment tailored to the needs of Pacific nations.

The outcomes from the meeting are available here:  PILON Outcomes 2007 
The 2008 work plan can be downloaded here:  PILON 2008 Work Plan

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