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TITLE:  KIRIBATI HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            KIRIBATI


The nation of Kiribati comprises some 76,300 people occupying 
33 small islands widely scattered across 3.5 million square 
kilometers of the central Pacific.  The population is primarily 
Micronesian, with a significant component of Polynesian 
origin.  Kiribati gained full independence from the United 
Kingdom in 1979 and became a republic within the Commonwealth 
of Nations.  It has a nationally elected president and a 
legislative assembly with 39 members elected by universal 
suffrage and 2 members ex officio .

The main security apparatus is a police force of about 250 
personnel, responsible to and effectively controlled by 
civilian authority.

Economic activity consists primarily of subsistence agriculture 
and fishing.  The islands' isolation and meager resources, 
including poor soil and limited arable land, severely limit 
prospects for economic development.

Kiribati society is egalitarian, democratic, and respectful of 
human rights.  There were no reports of specific human rights 
abuses in 1994, but in the traditional culture women have 
occupied a subordinate role, with limits on their job 
opportunities.

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 reports of politically motivated or other 
extrajudicial killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

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

Although torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or 
punishment are forbidden by the Constitution, corporal 
punishment is permitted under traditional mores for criminal 
acts and other transgressions.  On some outer islands, the 
island councils occasionally order strokes with palm fronds to 
be administered for public drunkenness and other minor offenses 
such as petty thievery.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Constitutional safeguards against arbitrary arrest and 
detention are observed in practice.  There is no exile, 
internal or external.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The right to a fair public trial is assured by law and observed 
in practice.  The Constitution provides that an accused person 
be informed of the nature of the offense for which he is 
charged and be provided adequate time and facilities to prepare 
a defense.  The right to confront witnesses, present evidence, 
and appeal convictions is enshrined in law.

Procedural safeguards are based on English common law.  The
judiciary is independent and free of governmental interference.
Kiribati has no political prisoners.

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

The privacy of the home is protected in law and respected by 
the Government.  There is no arbitrary intrusion by the State 
or political organizations into the private life of the 
individual.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and press is provided for in the Constitution 
and observed in practice.  Kiribati's radio station and only 
newspaper are government owned but offer a variety of views.  
Churches publish newsletters and other periodicals.  Academic 
freedom is respected.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association, including the right to form or belong to 
associations for the advancement or protection of a group's 
interests.  There are no significant restrictions in practice.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion prevails.  There is no state or preferred 
religion.  Missionaries are free to seek converts.

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

Citizens are free to travel within the country and abroad.  
There are no restrictions on repatriation.  Kiribati has no 
refugees or displaced persons.

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

The Government is chosen by the people in periodic free and 
open elections.  Executive authority is exercised by the 
President, who is elected by the people for a 4-year term.  No
less than three and no more than four presidential candidates 
are nominated by the elected Legislative Assembly from among 
its members.  Under the Constitution, the President is limited 
to three terms.

Prior to a snap general election held in August, there had been 
no formally organized parties, although election time did bring 
about coalitions of various interest groups.  Since 
independence in 1979, the former ruling group called itself the 
National Progressive Party.  After the Government fell in May 
in a no-confidence vote, the opposition forces which brought it 
down formed the Maneaban Te Mauri Party (MTM).  In the August 
parliamentary election, the MTM won 19 of the 39 seats in the 
Assembly.  An opposition leader, Teburoro Tito, was elected 
President in the September balloting.

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

There are no restrictions on the formation of local 
nongovernmental organizations that concern themselves with 
human rights, but to date none has been formed.  There have 
been no reported allegations of human rights violations by the 
Government and no known requests for investigations.  Kiribati 
is not a member of the United Nations.

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

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, 
creed, national origin, or sex, and this prohibition is 
generally observed in practice.  Kiribati society, 
fundamentally egalitarian, has no privileged chiefly class.

     Women

The traditional culture, in which males are dominant, has been 
an impediment to women taking a more active role in the 
economy.  This is slowly changing, and more women are finding 
work in unskilled and semiskilled occupations.  There are also 
signs of affirmative action in government hiring and promotions 
to redress this culturally based inequity.  Recent examples of 
affirmative action with regard to the advancement of women 
include the appointment of Makurita Baaro as the nation's first 
female Secretary for Foreign Affairs.  Furthermore, the 
selection of recent female participants from Kiribati in 
overseas training programs in the United States, Japan, and 
other countries reflects a firm commitment to the advancement 
of women.  Women have full and equal access to education.

Statistics on the participation of women in the work force and 
comparative wages are unavailable.  Women have full rights of 
ownership and inheritance of property.  Violence against women
does not appear to be a major problem in this isolated, rural 
society.  Rape is a crime under the law, and the law is 
enforced when charges are brought to court.  To the extent that 
it exists, wife beating is dealt with informally and in a 
traditional way; frequently, communal pressure is brought to 
bear.

     Children

If child abuse exists, it is rare and has not become a source 
of societal concern.  Within the limited resources of the
Government, adequate expenditures are made for child welfare.

     People with Disabilities

There is no evidence or complaint of discrimination in 
employment, education, or provision of other state services.  
Accessibility for the disabled has not been mandated.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Freedom of association is provided for in the Constitution.  
Workers are free to organize unions and choose their own 
representatives.  The Government does not control or restrict 
unions.  Over 90 percent of the work force is occupied in 
fishing or subsistence farming, but the small wage sector has a 
relatively strong and effective trade union movement.  In 1982 
the seven trade unions registered in Kiribati merged to form 
the Kiribati Trade Union Congress (KTUC).  It has approximately 
2,500 members, mostly from the public service sector.  The KTUC 
is affiliated with the International Confederation of Free 
Trade Unions.  The right to strike is provided for by law.  
However, strikes are rare, the last one having taken place in 
1980.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is provided for under the Industrial 
Relations Code.  Government wage setting is the rule in the 
large public sector.  The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and 
Employment sets wages after consultations with the Ministry of 
Finance and Economic Planning.  However, in a few statutory
bodies and government-owned companies, employees may negotiate 
wages and other conditions.  In the private sector, employees 
may also negotiate wages with employers.  Negotiations are 
generally nonconfrontational, in keeping with Kiribati 
tradition.  There have been no reports of antiunion 
discrimination.  However, there are mechanisms for resolving 
any such complaints.  Kiribati has no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited under the Constitution 
and is not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Kiribati law prohibits the employment of children under age 
14.  Children through age 15 are prohibited from industrial 
employment and employment aboard ships.  Labor officers from 
the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Employment normally 
enforce these laws effectively, given the rudimentary 
conditions of the economy and its industrial relations system.  
Children are rarely employed outside the traditional economy.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government has taken no concrete action to implement 
longstanding legislation authorizing establishment of minimum 
wages.  There is no legislatively prescribed workweek.  The 
Government is the major employer in the cash economy.

Employment laws provide rudimentary health and safety standards 
for the workplace.  Employers must, for example, provide an 
adequate supply of clean water for workers and ensure the 
existence of sanitary toilet facilities.  Employers are liable 
for the expenses of workers injured on the job.  The 
Government's ability to enforce employment laws is hampered by 
a lack of qualified enforcement personnel.  Women may not work 
at night except under specified circumstances (generally in 
service jobs such as hotel clerks).


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[end of document]

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