Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Regular transparent, credible and inclusive elections, combined with an independent judiciary and media ensure that basic human rights are respected in Palau. The next elections are scheduled for 2020. The government generally respects the human rights of the citizens. However, there are human rights’ concerns that still demand attention, such as assuring rights of children, addressing gender-based violence and tackling human trafficking, including due care of trafficked persons, migrants and asylum seekers. Although the Palauan society is matriarchal and matrilineal, women are still under-represented in the national Congress, the Cabinet and in the higher levels of the civil service. Women have close to equal status in public and private sector employment, education, as well as in public participation. Sexual harassment and rape, including spousal rape, are illegal. Domestic violence is not covered by specific legislation and remains a challenge. However, the government conducted public education efforts to combat abuse against women and children. Palau still has to ratify CEDAW. Steps taken towards ratification of CEDAW have focused on awareness programmes and consultations with key stakeholders, including traditional women's groups. There are no laws addressing sexual orientation and gender identity, although same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 2014. Palau’s new Penal Code includes trafficking as well as child exploitation offences.
Palau's legislation does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status and the government has not established a formal system for providing protection to refugees. In practice, the government nevertheless provided some protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened. Children born to non-citizens inherit their parents' citizenship.
Climate change has also become a human rights issue in Palau. The establishment of a National Human Rights Institution is in progress.
2. EU action - key focus areas: 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 with the Government of Palau on policy dialogue and governance.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: During 2019, the EU delegation for the Pacific carried out demarches and outreach activities inviting the Pacific Islands States including Palau, to support EU human rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level. Gender equality and human rights are shared values and common challenges between the EU and Palau in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals dialogue. 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. 4. EU financial engagement: Awareness-raising and support to civil society and non-state actors are an essential element for the implementation of the regional roadmap for CSOs in the Pacific. For this purpose, the EU 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 EU granted Palau EUR 0.2 million to support civil society organisations.
5. Multilateral context: Palau is a party to two of the core international human rights treaties – the 'Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)' and the 'Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)'. Legal protection of human rights remains weak. This is primarily due to poor incorporation of human rights treaties into domestic law and a lack of domestic legislative provisions for human rights protection. Palau’s capacity to implement international human rights treaties is constrained by financial considerations. Palau is in line with its reporting duties with the CRC and CRPD Committees, and has accepted the individual complaints procedure before the CRPD Committee.
The second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Palau took place in January 2016 and pointed to challenges such as tackling domestic violence and violence against women. The next UPR for Palau is expected to take place in 2021.
Palau has signed but not yet ratified the 'Convention against Torture (CAT)', the 'International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)', the 'Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)', the 'Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)', the 'International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)', the 'International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)' and the 'International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW)'.
Palau has extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. Palau is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court