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







                 FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA


The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is composed of 607 
small islands extending over a large area of the Central 
Pacific.  Four states--Chuuk (formerly Truk), Kosrae, Pohnpei, 
and Yap--comprise the federation.  The population is estimated 
to exceed 100,000, mostly of Micronesian origin.  The four 
states were part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, 
administered by the United States from 1947 to 1986 pursuant to 
an agreement with the United Nations.

Political legitimacy rests on the popular will expressed by a 
majority vote through elections in accordance with the 
Constitution.  There are three branches of government:  a 
president as chief executive and head of state, a unicameral 
legislature elected from the four constituent states, and a 
judicial system that applies criminal and civil laws and 
procedures closely paralleling those of the United States.

Under the Compact of Free Association, the United States is 
responsible for defense and national security.  The FSM has no 
security forces of its own, aside from local police and other 
law enforcement officers, all of whom are firmly under the 
control of the civil authorities.

The economy depends heavily on transfer payments from the 
United States, fishing, tourism, and subsistence agriculture.

Traditional customs sustain a value system which distinguishes 
between people on the basis of social status and sex.  The 
continuing breakdown of those customs, including the breakdown 
of the extended family, has contributed to violence against 
women and child neglect--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 reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances or abductions.

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

There was no known incidence of torture or other cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Legal procedures, for the most part patterned after U.S. law, 
provide for due process, which is carefully observed.  There is 
no exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Public trial is provided for in the Bill of Rights, and trials 
are conducted fairly.  Juveniles may have closed hearings.  The 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the 
President, with the advice and consent of the Congress.

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

The law prohibits such arbitrary interference, and in practice 
there is none.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

These rights are constitutionally assured and observed.  Each 
of the four state governments controls a radio station 
broadcasting primarily in the local language.  Local television 
programming in some states shows videotaped and occasionally 
live coverage of local sports and political and cultural 
events.  Subscription cable television, showing major U.S. 
programming, is available in Chuuk and Pohnpei.  Religious 
groups operate private radio stations.  The national Government 
and the four states publish newsletters.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Bill of Rights provides for freedom of peaceful assembly 
and association, and these rights are honored in practice.  
During political campaigns, citizens often question candidates 
at public meetings.  Formal associations are uncommon in 
Micronesia, but student organizations exist.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The FSM is hospitable to diverse religions, and missionaries of 
many faiths work within the nation.  The Bill of Rights forbids 
establishment of a state religion and governmental restrictions 
on freedom of religion.

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

There are no restrictions on freedom of movement.

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

The Congress is elected by popular vote from each state;  the 
Congress then chooses the President and Vice President from 
among its four at-large senators by majority vote.  State 
governors, state legislators, and municipal governments are all 
elected by direct popular vote.  Political campaigning is 
unrestricted and, as there are no established political 
parties, political support is generally courted from among 
family and allied clan groupings.

Although there are no restrictions on the formation of 
political groups, there have been no significant efforts to 
form political parties.

For cultural reasons in this male-dominated society, women have 
not reached any senior positions in government with one 
exception; one of the four state legislatures has a female 
member.

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

There were no known requests for investigations of alleged 
human rights violations.  While there are no official 
restrictions, no local groups concern themselves with human 
rights.

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

     Women

Although the Constitution provides explicit protection against 
discrimination based on race, sex, language, or religion, 
societal discrimination and violence against women remain 
serious problems.

There are no cultural or institutional barriers to education 
for women.  Statistics supplied by the College of 
Micronesia-FSM as well as by high schools and grade schools 
indicate that the percentage of female graduates at all levels 
now nearly equals that of males.  However, women are still at 
the early stages of finding jobs beyond the entry level in both 
the public and private sectors.

Women's roles within the family as wife, mother, homemaker, and 
childrearer remain virtually unchanged from earlier times.  
Allegations of violence against women usually stem from 
domestic conflict between husband and wife, and wife beating 
under certain circumstances is still condoned among more 
traditional elements of the population.  Alcohol abuse 
increasingly contributes to this problem.  While assault by a 
husband or other male relative on women and children within the 
family is a criminal offense under law, most women are 
reluctant to bring formal charges.  When formal charges are 
brought by women against men who assault them, the attitude of 
the authorities is that such issues are best left to the 
extended family unit to resolve.  At the same time, the 
breakdown of the extended family increasingly denies women even 
the traditional means of redress.

In 1992 women began to have organizational representation at 
the national level with the formation of the National Women's 
Advisory Council, made up of the National Women's Interest 
Officer (NWIO) and representatives from each of the four 
states.  The NWIO position was funded in 1994, but the 
incumbent took only tentative steps to increase women's 
awareness of their legal rights.

     Children

While children's rights are generally respected, child neglect 
has become increasingly common, a byproduct of the continuing 
breakdown of the extended family.  The Government has neither 
recognized child neglect as a problem nor taken steps to stop 
child neglect.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Non-Micronesians are prohibited from purchasing land in the 
FSM.  For the most part, non-Micronesians share fully in the 
social and cultural life of the FSM.  FSM citizenship for 
non-Micronesians is granted only by individual acts of the 
national Congress.

     People with Disabilities

Neither laws nor regulations mandate accessibility to public 
buildings and services for the disabled.  FSM schools have 
established special education classes to address problems 
encountered by those who exhibit learning disabilities.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Citizens have the right to form or join associations, and 
national government employees by law may form associations to 
"present their views" to the Government.  However, as yet, 
neither associations nor trade unions have been formed in this 
largely nonindustrial society.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

There is no law dealing specifically with trade unions or with 
the right to collective bargaining.  Wages are set by 
individual employers.  The Government is not a member of the 
International Labor Organization.  Micronesia has no export 
processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution specifically prohibits involuntary servitude, 
and there is no evidence of its practice.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

There is no law establishing a minimum age for employment of 
children.  While in practice there is no employment of children 
for wages, they often assist their families in subsistence 
farming activities.  The FSM does have a compulsory education 
law which requires that all children begin school at the age
of 6.  Children may leave school when they reach the age of 14 
or after completing the eighth grade, whichever comes first.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The four state governments have established minimum hourly 
wages for government workers:  $1.49 in Kosrae, effective 
October 1992;  $1.35 in Pohnpei, effective October 1991;  $0.80 
in Yap, effective January 1980; $1.25 in Chuuk, effective 
October 1994 (paychecks were sporadic to government workers as 
a result of Chuuk's debt crisis in the latter half of 1994).  
Pohnpei is the only state that applies its minimum wage rate to 
the private sector.  These minimum wage structures and the 
wages customarily paid to unskilled workers are sufficient to 
provide an acceptable standard of living under local conditions.

There are no laws regulating hours of work (although a 40-hour 
workweek is standard practice) or prescribing standards of 
occupational safety and health.  A federal regulation requires 
that employers provide a safe place of employment.  The 
Department of Health has no enforcement capability; working 
conditions vary in practice.
(###)

[end of document]

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