NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
(Commonwealth in political union with the United States)
Joined United Nations:  24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated: 20 February 2013
ARTICLE I: PERSONAL RIGHTS


Section 1: Laws Prohibited. No law shall be made that is a bill of attainder, an ex post facto law, a law impairing the obligation of
contracts, or a law prohibiting the traditional art of healing.
Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Section: See 3 CMC § 2213 (Medical Practice Act of 1982 not to prohibit traditional art of healing).

Section 2: Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press and Assembly. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See 1 CMC § 2353 (regulation of broadcasting by the Department of Community and Cultural
Affairs), 1 CMC § 9906 (media access to public meetings), 1 CMC § 9911 (notice to media of special public meetings), and 3 CMC §
2213 (Medical Practice Act of 1982 not to prohibit religious healers using prayer or other spiritual means in accordance with church
tenets).

Section 3: Search and Seizure. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and belongings against
unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.

a) No warrants shall issue except upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Case Annotations: Commonwealth v. Bowie, 3 N.M.I. 462--466, 467.

b) No wiretapping, electronic eavesdropping or other comparable means of surveillance shall be used except pursuant to a warrant.

c) A person adversely affected by an illegal search or seizure has a cause of action against the government within limits provided by
law.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See generally 6 CMC § 6101 et seq. (6 CMC, Div. 6, criminal procedure), specifically 6 CMC
§ 6201 et seq. (searches and seizures); see also 2 CMC § 3132, as amended by Executive Order 94-3, § 106(b) (search warrants
relating to Commonwealth Environmental Protection Act investigations), 3 CMC § 4312, as amended by Executive Order 94-3, §
301(c) (authority of secretary of Department of Labor and Immigration to issue warrants for arrest of aliens) and 4 CMC § 5428
(warrantless searches relating to enforcement of weights and measures standards).

Section 4: Criminal Prosecutions. In all criminal prosecutions certain fundamental rights shall obtain.

a) The accused has the right to assistance of counsel and, if convicted, has the right to counsel in all appeals.

b) The accused has the right to be confronted with adverse witnesses and to have compulsory process for obtaining favorable
witnesses.

c) No person shall be compelled to give self-incriminating testimony.

Case Annotations: Torres v. Marianas Pub. Land Corp., 3 N.M.I. 484--486; Commonwealth v. Ramangmau, 4 N.M.I. 227--235;
Commonwealth v. Cabrera, 4 N.M.I. 240--252.

d) There shall be a speedy and public trial.

e) No person shall be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense regardless of the governmental entity that first institutes prosecution.

f) Excessive bail shall not be required.

g) Excessive fines shall not be imposed.

h) Cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.

i) Capital punishment is prohibited.

j) Persons who are under eighteen years of age shall be protected in criminal judicial proceedings and in conditions of imprisonment.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See generally 6 CMC §§ 6105, 6302 and 6303; see also 1 CMC §§ 2203 and 2204 (duties and
authority of public defender); 6 CMC § 108 (location of trial); 6 CMC § 4101 et seq. (sentencing), specifically 6 CMC §§ 4101 and
4107 (imposition of fines, default and modification); 6 CMC § 5101 et seq. (juvenile delinquency proceedings); 6 CMC § 6401 et seq.
(bail); and 6 CMC § 6502 (immunity for witness providing self-incriminating evidence).

Case Annotations: In re "C.T.M.," 1 N.M.I. 410--412, 413.

Section 5: Due Process. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Source: Original provision,
unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Section 6: Equal Protection. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No person shall be denied the enjoyment of
civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof on account of race, color, religion, ancestry or sex.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See 4 CMC § 5120 (prohibiting discrimination in commerce), 4 CMC § 7302 (prohibiting
discriminatory insurance practices), and 7 CMC § 3105 (prohibiting exclusion from jury service due to race, color or religion).

Section 7: Quartering Soldiers. No soldier in time of peace may be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in
time of war except as provided by law.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Section 8: Trial by Jury. The legislature may provide for trial by jury in criminal or civil cases.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See generally 7 CMC § 3101; see also 6 CMC § 2150 (right to jury trial in certain criminal
prosecutions involving potential property forfeiture); 7 CMC §§ 2253 (no right to jury in actions against Commonwealth) and 2214
(waiver of jury bar by Commonwealth); and 8 CMC § 1714 (no right to jury in paternity actions).

Section 9: Clean and Healthful Environment. Each person has the right to a clean and healthful public environment in all areas,
including the land, air, and water. Harmful and unnecessary noise pollution, and the storage of nuclear or radioactive material and the
dumping or storage of any type of nuclear waste within the surface or submerged lands and waters of the Northern Mariana Islands,
are prohibited except as provided by law.

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 1 (1985).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See 2 CMC § 3101 et seq., as amended by Executive Order 94-3 (Commonwealth
Environmental Protection Act); see also 1 CMC § 1402 (local laws), 1 CMC § 2605, as amended by Executive Order 94-3, § 105
(regulatory authority of Department of Public Health), 2 CMC § 1301 et seq., as amended by Executive Order 94-3 (Commonwealth
Nuclear and Chemical Free Zone Act), and 2 CMC § 1501 et seq., as amended by Executive Order 94-3 (Coastal Resources
Management Act of 1983).

Section 10: Privacy. The right of individual privacy shall not be infringed except upon a showing of compelling interest.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See 1 CMC §§ 9903, 9912, 9917 and 9918 (limitation on public access to government
meetings and records to protect right of privacy); 1 CMC § 9918 and 4 CMC § 1812 (privacy of tax reports and returns); 4 CMC §§
6453 and 6454 (privacy of financial information in banks); and 7 CMC §§ 2411 and 2412 (action for invasion of privacy).

Section 11: Victims of Crime. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, and belongings against crime shall be
recognized at sentencing. Restitution to the crime victim shall be a condition of probation and parole except upon a showing of
compelling interest.

Source: Second Const. Conv. Amend. 2 (1985).

Related Commonwealth Code Sections: See generally 6 CMC §§ 9101-9112 (Office of Victims' Rights); 6 CMC § 4109 (restitution or
compensation to victim, property forfeiture to government); see also 6 CMC § 4101 (alternative sentencing may include restitution to
victim).

Section 12: Abortion. The abortion of the unborn child during the mother's pregnancy is prohibited in the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands, except as provided by law.

Source: Second Const. Conv. Amend. 3 (1985).
Northern Mariana Islands was occupied by Japan in 1919 and provided governance by the
League of Nations. They were captured by U.S. Marines on 15 June 1944 with the Battle of
Saipan.  After Japan's defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of
the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are
the responsibility of the U.S. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the
1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the U.S. Negotiations
for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political
union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into
effect on 1 January 1978. They do not vote for the President of the United States but do vote
for a Governor. The Northern Mariana Islands does not have a nonvoting delegate in the US
Congress; instead, it has an elected official or "resident representative" located in
Washington D.C.  The present constitution conforms to the 1948 Universal Declaration of
Human Rights of which the United States is a signatory. Those passages specifically
relating to human rights are enumerated in Article I and are detailed below.  For a full English
translation of the Commonwealth Constitution of the Northern Mariana Islands, click
here.
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