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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

For use of information media; not an official record

Date: Tuesday 3 May 2011 (Morning)

Country under review: PALAU

Documents:   National report A/HRC/WG.6/11/PLW/1;
Compilation of UN information A/HRC/WG.6/11/PLW/2;
Summary of stakeholders’ information A/HRC/WG.6/11/PLW/3;
 
Troika: REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, SENEGAL, ECUADOR

Concerned country - national report

- Represented by a 6 member delegation and headed by his Excellency Mr. John C. Gibbons, Minister of Justice of Palau

Highlights

- National laws ensure the protection of children.  It is the policy of the government to assist neglected and/or abused children.
- Palau faces enormous challenges in fully promoting and protecting human rights given its size, geography, and capacity constraints.
- Specific challenges include: climate change, lack of resources to fulfil human rights norms and obligations, lack of technical capacities to promote human rights, alcohol and substance abuse, high mortality rates, domestic violence, sexual discrimination at the workplace, human trafficking, limited access by vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities, disparity of social and economic well-being and discrimination against foreign workers.
- The establishment of a national UPR task force including a national forum to address human rights.
- Consultations are underway with civil society, relevant stakeholders and donor partners, to establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.
- Palau is committed to combat human trafficking with the support of the international community.
- Committed to protect its ecology through the reduction of greenhouse emissions. Convert fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy.
- Palau experiences shortcomings and welcomes the assistance of the international community in its efforts to promote and protect human rights.
- Palau is a transit area for forced labour including prostitution. There are no recognized agencies to protect workers against labour exploitation.
- No facilities to protect victims of domestic violence.
- Vocational training is provided to persons with disabilities. Yet many face challenges in finding employment. Reforms on policies and legislations are required to protect the disabled.
- The government is aware that it must establish an inclusive educational system, particularly for disabled persons. 
- Confidential testing of HIV/AIDS. A resource center was set-up for education/counselling, initial testing, and distribution of condoms.
- Palau has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The underlying issue is that women have not been successful in establishing a unified voice.
- Food security is a major concern given climate change. The Bureau of Agriculture should increase its capacity to develop data.
- The Constitution gives citizens the right to examine any government document.

Interactive discussion

Number of States taking part in the discussion

  • Member States: 18          Inscribed on the list: 29
  • Observer States: 11

Positive achievements

- Palau has made progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in regards to the eradication of extreme poverty, attaining universal primary education, reduction of child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS.
- Fulfilling its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its commitment to democracy, an independent judiciary, and respect for the rule of law.
- Free and compulsory education for all citizens.
- Raising awareness of the protection of children with legislation aimed at protecting children from violent crimes.
- Drafting a national policy for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and for endorsing the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability in October 2009.
- Establishing a de jure moratorium on the death penalty.

Issues and questions raised

- Progress should be made in terms of gender equality, particularly in regards to employment.
- To address the negative impact of climate change relating to the right to food, water security, and adequate housing.  
- Statelessness: children born of foreign parents and adopted by Palauans cannot hold citizenship.
- Mistreatment of foreign workers.
- What progress has been made in establishing a national human rights institution?
- Discrimination and acts of violence against women go unpunished.
- The criminal code criminalizes sexual relations between consenting same-sex adults.
- Not being a signatory of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, there is no domestic legislation that addresses domestic violence. 
- Laws do not provide for asylum and refugee protection.
- Legislation discriminates against women in regards to marital inheritance.
- How does the government intend to collaborate with civil society in the UPR follow-up process?
- What steps has the government taken for human rights education and training?
- Does the Government of Palau intend to undertake steps to translate international human rights instruments into the indigenous language?
- With regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is Palau developing any strategy regarding human rights education?
- How can the Human Rights Council take action on climate change?

Recommendations

- Ratification or accession to core international human rights instruments in order to create a proper framework of action to promote and protect human rights. 
- Enacting legislation to prevent child labour and to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation and pornography.
- To provide for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of sexual exploitation.
- Ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol.
- Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and work to implement the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability.
- Revise the existing laws identified in the national report as being discriminatory against women.
- Consider establishing shelters for victims of domestic violence and reinforce efforts to prevent and combat child abuse.
- Adopt measures to prevent the mistreatment of foreign nationals and to protect foreign workers with regard to conditions of work and occupational health and safety standards.
- Establish a National Human Rights Institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.
- Combat human trafficking and improve the situation of migrant workers.
- Pursue efforts aimed at food security, reach the Millennium Development Goals.
- Review the legislation on minimum age for criminal responsibility.
- Seek the international assistance of the International Labour Organization to combat child labour.
- Adopt legislation to raise public awareness to prohibit and eliminate all forms of corporal punishment.
- Circulate and implement adopted rules on the treatment of women prisoners and non-custodial measures for women offenders.
- To extend a standing invitation to Special Procedure mandate-holders.
- Ratify the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. 
- Take measures to protect victims of trafficking.
- Prohibit the use of corporal punishment.
- Revise the status of children born of foreign parents in accordance with international norms.    

Response of the concerned country

- Palau intends to hold a wider consultation on the establishment of a national Human Rights Institution.
- Palau calls on the international community to provide technical and financial assistance to meet its obligations.
- Palau intends to hold wider consultations with non-governmental organizations to map out strategies to implement the UPR recommendations. The Government will seek out technical assistance with non-governmental organizations and civil society.
- Efforts to amend provisions of laws that are discriminatory against women.
- Currently two legislative bills, a Domestic Violence Family Act, and a Victim’s Assistance Act address gender violence.
- The Victims of Crime Assistance Office will help children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse. The medical profession is required to report all evidence of sexual abuse to the respective authorities.
- Sex between consenting same-sex adults is not criminalized. 
- Regarding human trafficking, the President of the Republic of Palau established the Human Trafficking Task Force Committee. Palau is the only country in the Pacific Island that has exclusive legislation on human trafficking.

Adoption of the report by the UPR working group scheduled on: Thursday 5 May, 12:00 p.m.

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