Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific
Responsible for Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu as well as the three Overseas Countries and Territories in the Pacific.

EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:53
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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.