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Human rights were generally respected in Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) and no gross human rights abuses were identified in 2018. There were, however, some recurrent human rights concerns such as gender-based violence, domestic violence, child abuse and cases of trafficking in human beings that demanded attention. Organ trafficking remained an issue in the country, along with poor conditions in prison and detention centres, climate change and related problems. There were no reported cases of arbitrary deprivation of life or political prisoner. Trafficking in human beings requires further efforts to protect victims, and improved enforcement of the national legislation.
Although in 2016 Ms Hilda Heine became the country's first female President and the Pacific's first female elected Head of State, women are still underrepresented in all areas of political life.
There continued to be very low awareness of issues pertaining to children’s rights. Corporal punishment is illegal in schools but still permitted at home. There is no minimum age for employment for children which has raised concerns that children are not attending compulsory education. Only 80% of students who attend primary school reach eighth grade and only 70%-75% of those enter high school. There are few services for the protection of children, and the Human Rights Office in the Ministry of Internal Affairs is poorly staffed.
EU action - key focus areas: During 2018, the EU Delegation for the Pacific carried out demarches and outreach activities inviting the Pacific Islands States including RMI, to support EU human rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level.
EU bilateral political engagement: Human rights were discussed through an informal Political Dialogue held in March 2017. Through the dialogue with the country and through different financial instruments, the EU promoted human rights, gender equality and the increased participation of women in decision making. The EU Delegation in Fiji continued to actively promote climate change awareness, as in the Pacific region, climate change and human rights are very closely intertwined.
EU financial engagement: A Regional Financing Agreement worth EUR 13 million to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific was signed in the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting in Apia in September 2017.
Awareness-raising and support to civil society and non-state actors were essential element for the implementation of the regional roadmap for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Pacific. To this purpose, the EU also worked closely with the government, regional organisations, civil society and other donors. In the National Indicative Programme designed under the 11th EDF, a specific financial allocation has been set aside for CSOs (EUR 1 million).