In 2018, the overall human rights situation remained the same, with no systematic abuse, but continued concerns on gender-based violence which is deeply rooted in traditional behavioural norms. Kiribati's biggest challenge remains climate change. The country is at risk of becoming uninhabitable by the end of the century, which will lead to migration issues.
Human rights violations in Kiribati included violence against women such as spousal abuse, child abuse and sexual exploitation of children that remain serious challenges to tackle effectively in spite of the national legislation condemning all kind of children and women
abuse. Discrimination on the basis of race or origin is prohibited by the constitution; however, only native i-Kiribati may own land. Gender discrimination is prohibited only as regards to employment. Consensual sex between males is criminalised, but there were no reports of prosecutions in 2018.
Sexual and gender-based violence continued to be prevalent throughout Kiribati - 68% of women reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against children (42% of the population) and child malnutrition remained issues of serious concerns. Although children have been legally protected from sexual exploitation since 2013, Kiribati remains a source country for girls subjected to sex trafficking. Prosecution of trafficking offenders remained an issue, as did physical punishment of children.
Although in 2017 Kiribati's government established the National Human Rights Taskforce within the Ministry of Justice, with a mandate to oversee implementation of all ratified Human Rights Conventions, Kiribati has yet to establish a National Human Rights’ Institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.
Furthermore, a formal system for granting asylum or refugee status has still not been set up. Women's participation in political life remained low.
EU action - key focus areas: The 1st EU-Kiribati Political Dialogue was held in South Tarawa in January 2018. Human rights, good governance, democratic principles and the rule of law were discussed during the meeting with the government of Kiribati.
EU bilateral political engagement: During 2018, the EU Delegation for the Pacific carried out demarches and outreach activities inviting the Pacific Islands States including Kiribati, to support EU human rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level.
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 Organizations (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). The Civil Society Organizations support is implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for which the EU allocated Kiribati EUR 0.3 million. CSOs are empowered to effectively monitor implementation of national gender equality policies, primary prevention actions plans and challenge social norms and behaviours.
The EU also funds the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) human rights-related initiatives.