European Union External Action

EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN PALAU, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:38
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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

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