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









                             NAURU


The Republic of Nauru, a small Pacific island with about 9,900 
inhabitants, gained independence in 1968, at which time it 
adopted a modified form of parliamentary democracy.

Nauru has two levels of government, the unicameral Parliament 
and the Nauru Island Council (NIC).  Parliamentary elections 
must be held at least triennially.  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 small 
police force (less than 100 members) 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, which, using current extraction techniques, will 
probably occur by the year 2000.  The Governments of Nauru and 
Australia reached a $70.4 million out-of-court settlement in 
July 1993 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.  Discrimination and 
violence against women continue to be 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 political disappearances.

     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."  However, many cases never reach the formal legal 
process, as traditional reconciliation is used--usually by 
choice, but sometimes under communal (not government) 
pressure.  Guest workers from Kiribati and Tuvalu are 
particularly at a disadvantage in complaints against Nauruan 
citizens.  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 may 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.  Pay television, broadcast 
from New Zealand, is received by satellite.  Foreign 
publications are widely available.

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.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The constitutional protection of freedom of religion is 
observed in practice.

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

Nauruans are free to move and travel both domestically and 
internationally.  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.

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.

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 in 1968.  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.  However, there are no 
women among the current 18 parliamentarians.

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 Constitutional provisions assuring women the same freedoms 
and protections as men are not fully observed in practice.  The 
Government provides equal opportunities in education and 
employment and women are free to own property and pursue 
private interests.  However, both the Government and society 
still give women clear signals that their ultimate goal should 
be marriage and raising a family.  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.  For example, 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.

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 addressed the physical 
abuse of women and does not collect statistics on it.  Some 
credible reports indicate that the abuse that occurs, which is 
often aggravated by alcohol abuse, sometimes results in serious 
injury.

     Children

Child abuse statistics do not exist, but alcohol abuse 
sometimes leads to child neglect or abuse.  The NIC dealt with 
one child abuse case in 1994, treating it as a serious communal 
matter.  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 in employment, education, 
and the provision of state services to persons with 
disabilities.  There is, however, no legislation or mandated 
provisions of accessibility to public buildings and services 
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, Nauru has virtually no labor 
laws, and there are currently no trade unions.  Past efforts to 
form them were officially discouraged.  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 
1994.  Nauru is not a member of the International Labor 
Organization.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

While there are no legal impediments to collective bargaining 
and organizing the former does not take place, and, as noted 
above, the latter has been unsuccesful.  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 NRC, 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 yearly wage for Nauruans administratively for both 
public and private sectors.  Since November 1992, that rate has 
been $6,562 ($A9,056) for those 21 years of age or older.  The 
rate is progressively lower for those under 21 years of age.  
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.  Neither law nor regulations stipulate a weekly rest 
period; however, most workers observe Saturdays and Sundays as 
holidays.

The Government sets health and safety standards.  The 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.



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[end of document]

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