1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) holds regular and free elections. On 5 March 2019, Parliamentary and State elections were held in FSM, alongside a referendum for calling a Constitutional Convention. However, the Chuuk secessionist movement threatens the country's unity and destabilises its international relations, especially with the US and the renegotiation of the 'Compact of Free Association'. The judiciary is independent, and civil liberties are generally respected. In October 2019, the Acting Attorney-General of the State of Yap, a specialist human rights lawyer well known for combatting sex trafficking and member of the Yap State 'Human Trafficking Task Force' was shot dead. Multiple suspects were arrested in late October and charged with murder. Climate change has become the greatest human rights issue in FSM (especially for women) – being a low-lying atoll country makes it particularly vulnerable to its effects. No labour unions exist, though there are no laws against their formation. The right to strike and bargain collectively is not legally recognised.
Gender rights, domestic violence and human trafficking, as well as exploitation of migrant workers, remain areas of concern. There are no laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. There are no known reports of violence, official or societal discrimination, or workplace discrimination against LGBTI persons. However, culture stigmatises public acknowledgement or discussion of certain sexual matters including sexual orientation and gender identity. In spite of the 'Human Trafficking Act of 2012', FSM remains a source country for forced labour and sex trafficking. Many sex trafficking cases remain unreported due to victims’ fear of shame and embarrassment in FSM’s insular communities. As part of a larger awareness campaign, the government implemented a national action plan to combat trafficking.
2. EU action - key focus areas: Ongoing human rights concerns include gender rights, domestic violence and human trafficking, as well as exploitation of migrant workers. EU actions focus, inter alia, on supporting the ratification of or accession to the remaining core human rights instruments, promoting gender equality and women rights, and supporting CSOs engagement.
Women are well represented in the middle and lower ranks of government at both the federal and state level, but are scarcer in the upper ranks. No female candidates participated at the last election. All of the 14 members of Congress are men. FSM remains one of the few countries in the world with no women in the legislature.
Women enjoy equal rights under the law, including those regarding property ownership and employment. The legal rights of women are protected under the FSM National Constitution and the constitutions of the four states, all of which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex. However, socio-economic discrimination and violence against women continue to be the most prevalent human rights problem in the country. There is no national legislation criminalizing sexual assault. All states have identical legislation criminalising sexual assault against, and sexual relations with, girls under the age of 13. Cases of domestic violence often go unreported because of family pressure or inaction by the authorities. Offenders rarely face trial, and those found guilty usually receive light sentences.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: In 2019, the EU delegation for the Pacific carried out demarches and outreach activities inviting the Pacific Island States to support EU human rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level. The EU Delegation for the Pacific continued to actively promote climate change awareness. In the Pacific region, climate change and human rights are closely intertwined.
4. EU financial engagement: Awareness-raising and support to civil society and non-state actors were essential elements for the implementation of the regional roadmap for 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).
In December 2016, with the support of an EU funded project, FSM ratified the 'Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' and is working on its Disability Policy. However, a large number of the core international Human Rights Conventions remain to be ratified by FSM. Furthermore, the country has a number of overdue reports. With the support of the EU funded project, FSM organised consultations and prepared a report on the implementation of the 'Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)'.
The EU has been working with the FSM government on the domestic violence legislation for each of the States. Currently two of the States (Pohnpei and Kosrae) have passed their legislation and the other two States (Chuuk and Yap) have drafted Bills.
5. Multilateral context: FSM underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in November 2015. FSM’s reservations to the 'Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)', raised by some delegations as a concern on that occasion, remain. FSM’s third UPR is scheduled to take place in 2021.
FSM has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its two the Optional Protocols – on the
239 involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC) and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC-OP-SC). FSM signed the Convention against Torture (CAT) in September 2005, but has not yet ratified it.
FSM has not extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council and has an outstanding visit request by the Working Group on discrimination against women since 2015.
FSM is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.