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TITLE:  NAURU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                         NAURU


The Republic of Nauru, a small Pacific island with about 9,500 
inhabitants, gained independence in 1968, at which time it 
adopted a modified form of parliamentary democracy.  Prior to 
independence it had been administered by Australia.

Nauru has two levels of government, the unicameral Parliament 
and the Nauru Island Council (NIC).  Parliamentary elections 
must be held at least triennally.  The Parliament, consisting 
of 18 members from 14 constituencies, is responsible for 
national and international matters.  It elects the President, 
who is both head of state and head of government, from among 
its members.  The NIC acts as the local government and is 
responsible for public services.  The judiciary is 
independent.  Nauru has no armed forces, though it does 
maintain a 92-man police force under civilian control.

The economy depends almost entirely on the country's rich 
phosphate deposits, mined by the government-owned Nauru 
Phosphate Corporation (NPC).  The Government places a large 
percentage of the NPC's earnings in long-term investments meant 
to support the Nauruans after the phosphate reserves have been 
exhausted.  Using current extraction techniques, Nauru's 
phosphate reserves will probably be exhausted by the year 
2000.  The Governments of Nauru and Australia reached a $70.4 
million out-of-court settlement in July for rehabilitation of 
the Nauruan lands ruined by Australian phosphate mining. 

Fundamental human rights are provided for in the Constitution 
and generally respected in practice, although hard data and 
systematic records are lacking.  Discrimination and violence 
against women remain the principal human rights problems.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no political or other extrajudicial killings in 1993.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no political disappearances in 1993.


     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits these practices, and this 
prohibition is respected.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The constitutional prohibition against arbitrary arrest and 
detention is honored.  The police may hold a person for no more 
than 24 hours without a hearing before a magistrate.  Exile is 
not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Nauru maintains an independent judiciary, and constitutional 
provisions for both a fair hearing and a public trial are 
respected.  Defendants may have legal counsel, and a 
representative will be appointed when required "in the interest 
of justice."  Nauru has only two trained lawyers, and many 
people are represented in court by "pleaders," trained 
paralegals certified by the Government.  There are no political 
prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution generally provides protection from these 
abuses.  Searches not sanctioned by court order are prohibited, 
and there is no surveillance of individuals or of private 
communications.  Nauruan citizenship and inheritance rights are 
traced through the female line.  Until very recently, laws 
restricted intermarriage of Nauru men and women with 
non-Nauruans.  Although the laws have changed and such 
intermarriage is practiced and permitted, intermarriage between 
Nauru women and foreign males still draws substantial social 
censure.  The spouses--male or female--of Nauru citizens have 
no automatic right of abode in Nauru.  They are, however, 
normally granted short-term "visits" sponsored by the Nauru 
spouse or they can apply for longer-term work permits.  Foreign 
spouses are not eligible for Nauru citizenship.


Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression.  News and 
opinion circulate freely, rapidly, and widely by the press and 
word of mouth.  The country has two regular publications:  the 
private, fortnightly newspaper, the Central Star News, which 
operates and editorializes freely; and the Government Gazette, 
which contains mainly official notices and announcements.  The 
sole radio station, also owned and operated by the Government, 
broadcasts Radio Australia and British Broadcasting Corporation 
news reports but not local news.  Satellite reception of pay 
television, broadcast from New Zealand, became available in 
1991.

Foreign publications are widely available.  However, during the 
July South Pacific Forum meeting in Nauru, authorities banned 
the then-current issue of Pacific Islands Monthly, which 
strongly criticized the financial management and decisions of 
government investment trust managers regarding Nauru's 
phosphate resources and income.  The issue was available, 
nonetheless, and no one was detained for possession of it.

There are no prohibitions or restrictions on academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitutional right of peaceful assembly and association 
is honored.  No limitations exist on private associations, and 
no permits need be obtained for public meetings.  There were 
several peaceful demonstrations during the July South Pacific 
Forum meeting against various government policies and actions.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution protects freedom of religion, and the 
Government recognizes no religion as official.  Several 
different Christian denominations are well established in 
Nauru.  Missionaries, foreign clergy, and religious publishing 
are all permitted.  Adherence to a particular faith results in 
no advantage or disadvantage in any secular pursuit.


     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Nauruans are free to move and travel both domestically and 
internationally.  Foreign workers must apply to their employers 
for permission to leave during the period of their contracts.  
They may break the contract and leave without permission but 
would lose their positions and, often, a sizable bond as a 
result.  In most cases, foreign employees whose contracts are 
terminated by their employers must leave Nauru within 60 days.  
Nauru does not revoke citizenship for political reasons.  
Citizens who have left the country have the right to return, 
and repatriates receive the same treatment as other citizens.  
No restrictions on emigration exist.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have, and exercise, the right to change their 
government.  Though Nauru has no organized political parties, 
persons with diverse points of view run for and are elected to 
Parliament and to the NIC.

Parliament elects the President.  Nauru has had seven changes 
in presidential leadership since independence.  Power has 
always been transferred peacefully and in accordance with the 
Constitution.  Continuing this tradition, Bernard Dowiyogo was 
reelected to his parliamentary seat and the Presidency in 
November 1992.  Voting, by secret ballot, is compulsory for all 
citizens over age 20 for parliamentary elections.  There have 
been multiple candidates for all parliamentary seats during 
recent elections.  The approximately 3,000 guest workers in 
Nauru have no voice in political decisions.  There are no legal 
impediments to participation in politics by women, and women 
have in the past served in Parliament, although none of the 18 
current parliamentarians are women.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are no restrictions on establishing local groups that 
concern themselves specifically with human rights, but to date 
none has been formed.  There have been no allegations by 
outside organizations of human rights violations in Nauru, nor 
any requests for investigations.


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

The Constitution contains provisions assuring women the same 
freedoms and protections as men.  They are provided equal 
opportunities by the Government in education and employment and 
are free to own property and pursue private interests.  Social 
values have, however, changed very slowly, and women still 
receive clear signals that their ultimate goal should be 
marriage and raising a family.  Young women studying abroad on 
scholarship and contemplating marriage face review and possible 
termination of their educational grants as it is assumed that 
they will leave the work force and thus not require additional 
academic training.

Nauru's population has been almost eliminated on several 
occasions, first by disease and drought, then during World War 
II as a result of massive removals by the Japanese.  The 
Government has gone to great lengths to encourage large 
families, and Nauruan women complain that emphasis on their 
reproductive role reduces their opportunities.

Previous Nauruan governments have shown little interest in the 
problems of women.  Nauruan authorities give high priority to 
improved health care and education, but the island has no 
gynecologists.  The Government has not specifically addressed 
the physical abuse of women, which anecdotal evidence indicates 
to be a serious problem, though there are no statistics showing 
its extent.  Alcohol abuse is generally considered a major 
contributing factor.

     Children

Child abuse statistics do not exist, but as with violence 
against women, it can be assumed that alcohol abuse sometimes 
leads to child neglect or abuse.  The Government devotes 
considerable attention to the welfare of children, with 
particular stress on their health and educational needs.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Foreign laborers, mainly from Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Tuvalu, 
experience some discrimination.  While guest workers are 
provided free housing, the shelters they are given are often 
poorly maintained and overcrowded.  Some guest workers have 
alleged that Nauruan police rarely act on complaints they make 
against Nauruan citizens.

     People with Disabilities

There is no reported discrimination against persons with 
disabilities in employment, education, and provision of state 
services.  There is, however, no legislation or mandated 
provisions of accessibility for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right to assemble and 
associate peacefully and to form and belong to trade unions or 
other associations.  However, there are currently no trade 
unions in Nauru, and past efforts to form them were officially 
discouraged and ultimately failed.  The transient nature of the 
mostly foreign work force and the relative prosperity of the 
Nauruans have also served to hamper efforts to organize the 
labor force.  The right to strike is neither protected, 
prohibited, nor limited by law.  No strikes took place in 
1993.  Nauru is not a member of the International Labor 
Organization.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Nauru has virtually no labor laws.  The private sector in Nauru 
employs only about 1 percent of Nauru's salaried workers.  For 
government workers, public service regulations determine 
salaries, working hours, vacation periods, and other employment 
matters.  There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution forbids forced or compulsory labor, and there 
have been no instances of either.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Education is compulsory until age 16; Nauruan law sets 17 as 
the minimum age of employment.  This is honored by the only two 
large employers, the Government and the NPC.  Some children 
under age 17 work in the few small family owned businesses.


     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum wages paid on Nauru vary considerably between office 
workers and manual laborers, but they suffice to provide an 
adequate, if modest, standard of living.  Thanks to yearly 
dividends paid to Nauruans by the phosphate trust, most 
families live in simple but adequate housing and almost every 
Nauruan family owns at least one car or truck.  The Government 
sets the minimum wage for Nauruans administratively for both 
public and private sectors.  Since November 1992, that rate has 
been $5,958 ($A9,056) for those 21 years of age or older.  The 
rate is progressively lower for those under 21 years of age, 
dropping to $2,957 ($A4,521) for those age 16.  Employers 
determine wages for foreign contract workers based on market 
conditions and the consumer price index.  Usually foreign 
workers and their families receive free housing, utilities, 
medical treatment, and often a food allowance.  By regulation 
the workweek for office workers is 36 hours and for manual 
laborers 40 hours in both the public and private sectors.  

The Government sets health and safety standards.  The state-run 
mining enterprise, NPC, has an active safety program that 
includes worker education and the use of safety helmets, safety 
shoes, respirators for dusty conditions, and other safety 
measures.  The NPC has a safety officer, specifically 
responsible for improving safety standards and compliance 
throughout the company.  


[end of document]

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