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Sexual & Gender Based Violence

Under the PILON Strategic Plan, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) is recognised as a priority legal issue for PILON.  This webpage is created as a Strategic Plan initiative, to compile resources for and to share information between PILON Members in relation to SGBV.  This webpage is created as a Strategic Plan initiative, to compile resources for and to share information between PILON Members in relation to SGBV.


In May 2016 the SGBV Working Group met and agreed to prepare a best practice document for prosecutors and courts in PILON Member countries relating to the treatment of children and other vulnerable victims/survivors or witnesses of SGBV offences. 
These General Principles draw upon the principles set out in the UN Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime. They identify broad concepts that underpin best practice policies and procedures for protecting the interests of vulnerable witnesses of SGBV offences during criminal proceedings.
Implementation of the General Principles is intended to maximize the ability of vulnerable witnesses to give reliable and truthful evidence in SGBV court proceedings. In doing so, the Principles seek to ensure that the criminal process does no further harm to the person and that their safety is prioritised while ensuring a fair trial for the accused. Maximising the ability of vulnerable witnesses to provide their best evidence and preventing their re‑traumatization may also improve trust in the criminal court process, thereby increasing the likelihood of reporting of SGBV offences.
To read the full document please click on button below:

2015 Working Group Meeting - Suva, Fiji

The Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Working Group meeting was held in Suva, Fiji from 8 – 11 June at the PIFS Secretariat. Meeting participants comprised of prosecutors and police officers. The meeting was chaired by Mr. ‘Aminiasi Kefu (Acting Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions of Tonga).
This meeting follows last year’s successful and productive working group meeting on the implementation of SGBV laws across the Pacific, with the key objective of the 2015 meeting being the discussion and exploration of different ways to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of SGBV legislation in the Pacific.
The meeting also provided further opportunities for relationship building between prosecutors, legal officers and police – a fundamental aspect to effective implementation of SGBV laws.  

Find the links of presentations at the meeting below:

2013 UPDATES - PILON Member Countries

KIRIBATI: RRRT project assisting with national consultations and implementation plan for draft bill
Kiribati has prepared draft legislation Kiribati Te Rau N Te Mweenga Bill 2012, or the Family Peace Bill. The bill is expected to go before Kiribati’s parliament in late 2013...Full story continues here
SAMOA: New legislative provisions in relation to sexual offences; introduction of family protection legislation
During March 2013, the Family Safety Act 2013 and Crimes Act 2013 were passed....Full story continues here
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Removal of marital rape exemption ; consideration of relevant factors in sentencing

A 2012 decision of the Solomon Islands High Court held the common law principle of marital exemption in rape was no longer part of the law of Solomon Islands....Full story continues here

TONGA: Introduction of Family Protection legislation

The Family Protection Bill (2013) (here) was passed during its third and final reading on Tongan Parliament on 4 September 2013, following three weeks of parliamentary debate....Full story continues here 

Member Resources

SPC – RRRT: Legal Analysis on Violence Against Women – Drafting Options for Legislative Reform (July 2013)

SPC-RRRT have prepared a technical background paper for each of the countries listed, to assist each in making changes to their law and policies relating to violence against women (VAW).  Each paper contains a comprehensive analysis of the current legal framework in relation to VAW, sets out examples of legislative approaches adopted regionally and internationally, and contains recommendations for amendments to suit the particular countries’ circumstances.  The papers refer to the law in each country as at July 2012.

Available here

National Approach to Eliminating Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Kiribati: Policy and Strategic Action Plan 2011 - 2021

The National Approach document comprises two key documents:
1. The National Policy to Eliminate Sexual and Gender Based Violence
2. The National Action Plan.

The National Policy sets out a multi-sectoral policy framework, which has as its overall goal the elimination of gender based violence.  The Policy identifies five priority policy commitments, which includes “Strengthen Legal frameworks, Law enforcement and the Justice system”.

The National Action Plan provides a detailed framework of strategies to facilitate implementation of the National Policy.    The commitment to “Strengthen Legal frameworks, Law enforcement and the Justice system” is therefore adopted as one of five key strategic areas of focus.  Specific activities – directed towards the overarching objective of the Policy, that is, to eliminate gender based violence – are outlined for each strategic area. 

Available here

Practice Note – Domestic Violence Prosecutions (issued by the Chief District Court Judge)

The Practice Note applies to the NZ Family Violence Courts.  These courts operate within the criminal jurisdiction, and were established at two District Courts in 2005. 

The objectives of both Family Violence Courts include reducing delays in the resolution of family violence cases, and therefore minimising damage to families by delay. 

Processes at the Family Violence Courts are informed by this Practice Note on Domestic Violence Prosecutions.  This introduced a standard procedure for management of domestic violence prosecutions, and gave priority to domestic violence cases so they can be ‘heard and finalised with the least possible delay’.

Available here

Sentencing and Penalties Decree 2009 (Fiji)

The Fiji Sentencing and Penalties Decree 2009 sets out legislative guidelines that the court must take into account when meting out punishment to offenders, including domestic violence perpetrators.

Part II of the Decree sets out Sentencing Guidelines.  Section (4)(3) deals specifically with sentencing offenders for an offence involving domestic violence.  Factors the court must also have regard to in sentencing offenders are set out as subsections (a) – (g). 

Available here

SILRC – Review of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code Sexual Offences – Sentencing Research Paper 2011

As part of a review of the Penal Code being undertaken by the Law Reform Commission, this research paper was produced to support the review of sexual offences (rape, defilement, indecent assault and incest).   The report examines prosecutions for sexual offences to determine sentence range, and the factors that affect the type and severity of sentences given for these offences.  As part of the research undertaken, a comparative analysis of sentencing for sexual offences in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu was conducted, and this is also presented in the report.

Available here

UNDP Presentation: Costing the Implementation of Laws that Address Gender-based Violence - Experiences from the Pacific

The UNDP Pacific Centre provided assistance in 2011 and 2012 in relation to the costing of implementation of the Cook Islands draft Family Law Bill and the Republic of the Marshall Islands Domestic Violence Protection and Prevention Act. The costing exercise assessed costs for the law's implementation across all relevant Ministries, for a defined time period.  This presentation provides details of how the costing exercise is undertaken, and examples showing the application of this process in both jurisdictions.

Available here

Regional Law and Justice Projects and Initiatives - Links and Resources

Model Framework for Legislation on Violence against Women (2008)

The model framework was prepared by an expert group meeting convened by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), on good practices in legislation on violence against women.  The model framework includes detailed recommendations, commentaries and examples of promising practices.  The two types of recommendations included in the framework are those that applicable to all forms of violence against women; and those that are specific to domestic violence or sexual violence. 

Available here

Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women (2009)

The Handbook was developed by UNDAW/DESA, and is intended to provide stakeholders with detailed guidance to support adoption and effective implementation of legislation which prevents violence against women, punishes perpetrators and ensures rights of survivors.

Available here

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat – Sexual Offences Model Provisions
Available here
UN Women - Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls

The 'knowledge centre' includes a Legislation Module, which provides guidance on drafting, advocating for, implementing and monitoring national legislation.  Resources include case studies of international practices and tools for implementation. 

Available here

Tools for developing legislation on violence against women and girls: Available here

Resources for implementing laws: Available here

UN Secretary-General’s coordinated database on violence against women

In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted a comprehensive resolution calling for intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and requesting that the Solicitor General establish a coordinated database on the extent, nature and consequences of violence against women, and on the effectiveness of policies and programmes for, including best practices in, combating such violence.  UN Women functions as the Secretariat of the database.

The primary source of information for the database is responses received from Member States to a questionnaire on violence against women.  Other sources of information are state parties’ reports to human rights treaty bodies, statements made at the UN, and information available through relevant UN entities.

The database contains information on a country’s VAW legal and institutional frameworks, resources and services, database contains information regarding measures identified as ‘good practices’ with particular focus on good practices in law, service provision and prevention.

Available here

Pacific Handbook on Human Rights Treaty Implementation

The Pacific Handbook on Human Rights Treaty Implementation, developed by UNDP Pacific Centre and the Pacific Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, was launched in December 2012.  The Handbook provides background on the various treaties; the processes of signing and ratifying; the steps for reporting to treaty bodies; and the role of human rights mechanisms.  The Handbook addresses practical challenges, providing suggestions on actual implementation, as well as political, cultural and resource challenges.  Several examples of successful initiatives taken by Pacific Island countries to implement human rights treaties are also included, aimed at enhancing knowledge-sharing within the region.  This includes summaries of court judgements referring to particular Human Rights treaties.

Available here

Conventions & Declarations

Regional Organisations

Any enquiries regarding our work?

Please feel free to contact the PILON Secretariat.

About the SGBV Working Group

Current Chair of SGBV Working Group: Samoa
Members: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Australia.

Contact Us

The Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV) working group can be contacted via the PILON Secretariat.

Please email or call to enquire.