No gross human rights’ abuses were identified in 2018; however there were human rights concerns that still required attention such as assuring rights of children, addressing gender-based violence and tackling trafficking in human beings, including due care of trafficked persons, migrants and asylum seekers. Other human rights issues included climate change and related problems. The establishment of a National Human Rights Institution was in progress, but not finalised.
Although the Palauan society is matriarchal and matrilineal, women are still underrepresented 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'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.
EU action - key focus areas: Human rights were discussed through the last informal Political Dialogue held in Palau, in April 2018. 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.
EU bilateral political engagement: During 2018, 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 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: Awareness-raising and support to civil society and non-state actors were essential element 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). The European Union granted Palau an allocation of EUR 0.2 million allowance to support civil society organizations.
Multilateral context: Steps taken towards ratification of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have focused on awareness programmes and consultations with key stakeholders, including traditional women's groups.