The Pacific Community (SPC) is pleased to welcome Adi Talanaivini Mafi to join its Regional Rights Resource Team in Suva for a six-month placement in 2016.

Ms Mafi is an awardee of the 2016 Greg Urwin Awards presented this week to five outstanding Pacific Islanders.

A Legal Officer with Tonga’s Ministry of Justice, Ms Mafi looks forward to the placement with SPC in March and hopes that her placement will contribute to her plans to advocate for the rights of children within the Tongan criminal justice system.

SPC’s Deputy Director of the Social Development Division, Mark Atterton said the Regional Rights Resource Team is delighted to support Ms Mafi build her capacity in her specific area of interest in human rights.

“We welcome Ms Mafi to SPC and look forward to working with her over the next six months.  Ms Mafi will be focussing on the rights of children in Tonga which will have a wider learning implication for all countries in the Pacific.  The rates of abuse of children in this region are alarming and it is often such pieces of research that can be a real catalyst for change and the protection of children.  We thank the Australian Government, the Pacific Leadership Program and the Urwin family for making this placement possible,” Mr Atterton added.

Ms Mafi is determined that the placement will assist her identify legal provisions that will eradicate legally mandated violence against children which she believes will raise awareness in Tonga on the long term harm that violence causes for children; violence within society and violence within the legal and criminal justice system.

She also hopes that her placement will equip her to train relevant stakeholders, on identifying laws to be amended.

Ms Mafi holds a Masters of Law from Queen Mary University of London, a Professional Diploma in Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Law both from the University of the South Pacific. She has been a Legal Officer with Tonga’s Ministry of Justice since 2012.

The Greg Urwin Awards are an Australian Government-Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) joint initiative. The Awards were established in 2008 to honour the memory and the legacy of the former Secretary General of PIFS and a former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu, the late Mr Greg Urwin.

The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms Margaret Twomey, hosted an event to congratulate the five new Greg Urwin awardees for 2016.  Present were Mr Wylie Clarke, son of the late Greg Urwin and Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, to congratulate the Greg Urwin Awardees and wish them well for their placements.

SPC works to build a culture of human rights and assisting nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards.

Media contact: Jilda Shem, SPC Communications Officer, jildas@spc.int or +679 330 5994