|The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date. This site is not updated so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. |
NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
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]
to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.