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Title:  Federated States of Micronesia Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996




                  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 at 106,000, mostly of 
Micronesian origin.  The four states were part of the Trust Territory of 
the Pacific Islands and were 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.  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.

The Government generally respects the human rights of its citizens.  
However, 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 a number of human rights problems, including 
violence against women and child neglect with abusers acting with 
increasing impunity.

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 politically motivated disappearances.



  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.

Prison conditions meet minimum international standards.  There are no 
local organizations concerning themselves solely with human rights, and 
there have been no requests for visits from human rights monitors.  
Accordingly, the question of visits by human rights monitors remains 
undefined.  

  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 governmental 
use of exile for political purposes.

  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and it is 
independent in practice.  

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President, 
with the advice and consent of the Congress.  

Public trial is provided for in the Bill of Rights, and trials are 
conducted fairly.  Juveniles may have closed hearings.  Despite these 
provisions, cultural resistance to litigation and incarceration as 
methods of maintaining public order have allowed some to act with 
impunity.  Serious cases of sexual and other assault and even murder 
have not gone to trial, and suspects are routinely released 
indefinitely.  

There were no reports of political prisoners.  

  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

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects 
them in practice.  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.    

Academic freedom is respected.  

  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Bill of Rights provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and 
association, and the Government respects these 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 Bill of Rights forbids establishment of a state religion and 
governmental restrictions on freedom of religion.  The Government 
respects this freedom in practice; it is hospitable to diverse 
religions, and missionaries of many faiths work within the nation.  

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

The Constitution has specific provisions for freedom of movement within 
the FSM.  It is silent on foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, 
but in practice none of these is restricted.  

There have been no refugees or asylumseekers in the FSM, and accordingly 
no policy toward their treatment has been formulated.

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 senior positions in government.  The only female member of any 
of the four state legislatures was defeated in the November elections in 
Pohnpei.

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, there are no 
local groups exclusively concerned with human rights.  There are, 
however, women's groups which concern themselves with rights for women 
and children.

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

Although the Constitution provides explicit protection against 
discrimination based on race, sex, language, or religion, there is 
extensive societal discrimination, notably discrimination and violence 
against women.  Government enforcement of these constitutional 
protections is weak. 

  Women

Violence against women usually stems from domestic conflict between 
husband and wife, and wife beating under certain circumstances is still 
condoned among more traditional elements of the population.  The 
incidence of 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.  

Women's roles within the family as wife, mother, homemaker, and 
childrearer remain virtually unchanged from earlier times.  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 exceeds that of males.  The government-funded National 
Women's Advisory Council as well as some local nongovernmental 
organizations were active in regional and international preparations for 
the Fourth World Conference on Women.  

In some areas, the Government's expressed commitment to women's rights 
lacks follow through.  For example, the FSM acceded to the Convention on 
the Rights of the Child in 1993 and subsequently established a national 
advisory committee on children.  That committee has taken no action to 
draft the first implementing report due last June.  Similarly, the 
Government made no effort to finalize the government-drafted 

legislation to provide counseling and other services to families and 
neglected children and to submit it to the FSM Congress.  When the 
Government did ask the Congress to consider the Convention on the 
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, there was no 
serious debate, and the Congress rejected the Convention.  

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

Programs in health care and education are inadequate to meet the needs 
of a sharply growing population in an environment in which the extended 
family is breaking down.

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 not recognized this as a 
problem or taken steps to address it.

  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.

  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The FSM prohibits non-Micronesians from purchasing land in the FSM, and 
the national Congress grants citizenship to non-Micronesians only by 
individual acts.  For the most part, however, non-Micronesians share 
fully in the social and cultural life of the FSM. 

Section 6  Worker Rights

  a.  The Right of Association

Under the Bill of Rights, 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 
largest of which are the national and state governments.  The Government 
is not a member of the International Labor Organization.  

There are 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, and in two cases private workers:  $1.35 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 to Chuuk government workers continue to be sporadic as a 
result of Chuuk's debt crisis).  Pohnpei and Yap apply the minimum wage 
to both government and private workers.  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.

The FSM does not have any law for either the public or private sector 
which would permit workers to remove themselves from dangerous work 
situations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

(###)

[end of document]

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