Republic of Palau
Beluu er a Belau
Joined United Nations:  15 December 1994
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 17 January 2013
Ngerulmud (on Melekeok Island)
21,032 (July 2012 est.)
Tommy Remengesau, Jr.
President since 17 January 2013
President and Vice President elected on separate tickets by
popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term);
election last held 6
November 2012

Next scheduled election: November 2016
Tony Bells
Vice President since 17 January 2013
According to the Palauan Constitution, the president is both the
chief of state and head of government
Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 69.9%, Filipino 15.3%, Chinese 4.9%, other Asian 2.4%, white
1.9%, Carolinian 1.4%, other Micronesian 1.1%, other or unspecified 3.2% (2000 census)
Roman Catholic 41.6%, Protestant 23.3%, Modekngei 8.8% (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-Day Adventist 5.3%, Jehovah's Witness 0.9%,
Latter-Day Saints 0.6%, other 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4% (2000 census)
Constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 1 October 1994 -16
states; Legal system is based on Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws
Executive: President and Vice President elected on separate tickets by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second
term); election last held 6
November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016)
Legislative: Bicameral Parliament or Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote
on a population basis to serve four-year terms) and the House of Delegates (16 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve
four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 6
November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016); House of Delegates - last held 6 November
(next to be held in November 2016
Judicial: Supreme Court; National Court; Court of Common Pleas
Palauan 64.7% official in all islands except Sonsoral (Sonsoralese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and
Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official), Filipino 13.5%, English 9.4%, Chinese 5.7%, Carolinian 1.5%, Japanese
1.5%, other Asian 2.3%, other languages 1.5% (2000 census)
It's thought that the first inhabitants of Palau came from eastern Indonesia. Carbon dating of ancient habitation sites shows that the
Rock Islands were settled by at least 1000 BC. These early Palauans developed fairly complex matrilineal and matriarchal social
systems, wherein money and property were inherited by women though owned by the clan. The first European to sight Palau was
probably Ruy Lopez de Villalobos of Spain in 1543. Spain claimed the islands in 1686 but did nothing to develop or colonize them.
It wasn't until 1783, when English captain Henry Wilson shipwrecked on a reef off Palau's Ulong Island, that any significant contact
between Palauans and Westerners began. Wilson was aided by Koror's chief, Ibedul, who helped rebuild the ship and then sent his
son, Prince Lebuu, back with the sailors to be educated in England. Although Lebuu died of smallpox shortly after arriving in
London, his presence there touched many Britons and piqued their interest in Palau. The country soon became Palau's main trading
partner and remained so for over 100 years, until the Spanish returned and expelled them in 1885. Spanish missionaries introduced
Christianity and a written alphabet to Palau before Spain sold the country to Germany in the wake of the Spanish-American War.
Germany took control in 1899 and immediate set about curtailing the devastating effects of Western diseases on the local populace.
They then forced the Palauans into servitude while setting up coconut plantations and other business ventures. Japan occupied Palau
from 1914 until the end of WWII. It was during this time that Palauan culture went through its greatest transformation: free public
schools were opened, instructing islanders in a subservient dialect of the Japanese language, and village chiefs lost power to
Japanese colonial bureaucrats. Koror was developed into a bustling modern city, with paved roads, electricity and piped-in water;
thousands of Japanese, Korean and Okinawan laborers were imported; and the traditional inheritance patterns were shattered as
Palauans lost their land, either through sale or confiscation. In the late 1930s, Japan closed Palau to the outside world and began
concentrating its efforts to develop military fortifications throughout the islands. During the final stages of WWII, Japanese
installations across Palau became targets for Allied attacks. The fiercest fighting took place on Peleliu and Angaur; the more heavily
populated Koror and Babeldaob (where the Japanese had relocated most Palauans) were never invaded. When the USA began to
administer Palau after the war, it hoped to spin it off with the rest of Micronesia into a single political entity. Palauans, however, held
out, voting in 1978 against becoming a part of the Federated States of Micronesia in favor of retaining a separate identity. In 1980,
Palau adopted its own constitution, and the first president, Haruo Remeliik, took office in 1981. Koror was named the provisional
capital, though the constitution requires that it eventually be moved to Melekeok State in Babeldaob. The transition to self
governance, however, has not been easy: in 1985, Remeliik was assassinated (the crime remains unsolved), and his successor,
Lazarus Salii, was found shot to death in an apparent suicide after being placed under investigation for accepting political payoffs.
Palau's next president, Ngiratkel Etpison, a successful businessman and part-owner of the Palau Pacific Resort, was the first to
serve out his term in full. On 1 October 1994, Palau officially became an independent nation, ending 47 years as a Trust Territory.
That same year it was admitted to the United Nations. The USA retains some rights to a third of Palauan territory, thanks to its
Compact of Free Association, which netted Palau a hefty US$450 million financial package for the first 15 years of the 50-year
compact. Post-independence has been difficult with political power struggles, the Asian economic crisis and lack of infrastructure.
But Tommy Remengesau, who replaced Kuniwo Nakamura as president in November 2000, promised to make Pulau more
organised and more self-sufficient. He was replaced by Johnson Toribiong, a U.S. educated attorney, inaugurated 15 January 2009.

Tommy Remengesau was reelected on 6 November 2012 and, along with Vice President Tony Bells, resumed office on 17 January

Source: Pacific Asian Travel Association: History of Palau
The economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work
force relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. The Compact of Free Association with the US, entered into after the end
of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994, provided Palau with up to $700 million in US aid for the following 15 years in return for
furnishing military facilities. Business and tourist arrivals numbered 85,000 in 2007. The population enjoys a per capita income
roughly 50% higher than that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the key tourist sector have been
greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries, and the willingness
of foreigners to finance infrastructure development.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Palau)
Palau adopted a constitution on January 1, 1981. While calm in recent years, Palau witnessed several instances of political violence
in the 1980s. The republic's first president, Haruo I. Remeliik, was assassinated in 1985; the Minister of State was found to be
complicit in the crime. Palau's third president, Lazarus Salii, committed suicide in September 1988 amid bribery allegations. Salii's
personal assistant had been imprisoned several months earlier after being convicted of firing shots into the home of the Speaker of
the House of Delegates. Palau gained independence from the United Nations trusteeship administered by the United States on 1
October 1994 and entered a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The Senate passed legislation making Palau an
"offshore" financial center in 1998. Opponents to the legislation voiced fears that the country would become a haven for money
launderers and other sorts of criminal activity. Politics of Palau takes place in a framework of a presidential representative
democratic republic, whereby the President of Palau is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party
system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Palau National
Congress. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Palau
Maritime delineation negotiations continue with Philippines, Indonesia
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
None reported.
None reported.
Asia Pacific Forum
2011 Human Rights Report: Palau
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012

Palau is a constitutional republic. The president, vice president, and members of the legislature (the Olbiil Era Kelulau) are elected
for four-year terms. There are no political parties. In the generally free and fair elections held in November 2008, Johnson
Toribiong was elected president. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

The most significant human rights problems in the country occurred in the areas of government corruption and discrimination and
abuse of foreign workers.

Other human rights problems that occurred during the year were domestic violence and trafficking in persons.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses. Impunity was not a problem
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11 July 2011
Human Rights Council
Eighteenth session
Agenda item 6
Universal Periodic Review
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review*

1. The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution
5/1 of 18 June 2007, held its eleventh session from 2 to 13 May 2011. The review of Palau was held at the 3rd meeting on 3 May
2011. The delegation of Palau was headed by John C. Gibbons, Minister of Justice of Palau. At its 7th meeting, held on 5 May
2011, the Working Group adopted the report on Palau.

I. Summary of the proceedings of the review process
A. Presentation by the State under review
5. Palau expressed the view that it was truly committed to fulfilling its human rights obligations. Efforts in this regard had resulted
in pending new legislation, policies and the creation of Task Force Committees to oversee and address its human rights
commitments and obligations.
6. Palau indicated that it had acceded only to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and that it intended to carefully examine the
possibility of signing and acceding to other human rights covenants and protocols, including the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women.

B. Interactive dialogue and responses by the State under review
22. During the interactive dialogue 29 delegations made statements. Recommendations made during the dialogue are to be found in
section II of the present report.
23. A number of delegations commended Palau for the presentation of its national report, the high quality and self-critical nature of
the latter, the participation of civil society in its preparation, and Palau’s participation and commitment in the UPR process despite
the challenges it faced as a small island State. Some countries welcomed Palau’s genuine efforts as one of the world’s newest
democracies to meet international human rights standards.
24. Algeria noted that Palau’s free and fair elections, respect for the rule of law and functioning judiciary were encouraging, given
that it gained independence just 16 years ago. Algeria noted that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the only core
international human rights instrument to which Palau was a party. It referred to the important areas of concern identified in Palau’s
report. Algeria made recommendations.

II. Conclusions and/or recommendation
60. The recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue have been examined by Palau and enjoy its support:
60.1. Issue a standing invitation to all special procedures of the Human Rights Council (Hungary);
60.2. Extend a standing invitation to special procedure mandate-holders as a way of informing and supporting human rights
reforms (Maldives);
60.3. Extend a standing invitation to the special procedure mechanisms of the United Nations (South Africa);
60.4. Consider identifying a priority list of issues and areas of requirements needed in the field of technical assistance and capacity-
building and to approach the relevant partners at the multilateral or bilateral levels (Malaysia);
60.5. Engage civil society in the UPR follow-up process (Poland).
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Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Status: Free

In 2011, President Johnson Toribiong appointed a new special prosecutor to investigate white-collar crime as well as a new public
auditor, though neither appointment had been approved by the legislature by year’s end. Meanwhile, a fire at a power plant in
November led to power outages, rationing, and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Johnson Toribiong was elected president in November 2008. Parliamentary elections were held the same month, with all candidates
running as independents.

In February 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a law that had been in effect since June 2010 that required all foreign
nationals—except diplomats, their dependents, and tourists—to register with the state within their first seven days of arrival and
pay a registration fee of $25. The government had said the measure was necessary to help fight illegal immigration and that the fee
was required to cover administrative expenses.

In June, voters rejected a proposal to legalize casino gambling. The referendum was held in accordance with a law signed by
Toribiong in December 2010 that would have created a casino gaming commissioner had the referendum passed, and barred the
legislature from reconsidering the issue in the event of the referendum’s failure.

A power plant fire in November 2011 prompted the government to declare a state of emergency for two weeks that month to ration
electricity. Power shortages lasted through the end of the year, and rationing took place throughout the islands; hospitals, the
sewage system, schools, and public services were all affected. The incident demonstrated the vulnerability of the nation’s

Palau is an electoral democracy. The bicameral legislature, the Olbiil Era Kelulau, consists of the 9-member Senate and the 16-
member House of Delegates. Legislators are elected to four-year terms by popular vote, as are the president and vice president. The
president can serve only two consecutive terms. Palau is organized into 16 states. Each is headed by a governor and has a seat in
the House of Delegates. Every state is also allowed its own constitutional convention and to elect a legislature and head of state.

There are no political parties, though no laws prevent their formation. The current system of loose political alliances that can
quickly form and dismantle has had a destabilizing effect on governance.
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Suggested recommendations to States considered in the 11th round of
Universal Periodic Review, 2-13 May 2011
1 April 2011
Recommendations to the government of Palau

Ratification of international human rights instruments
· To accede to and implement under national law the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Agreement on the
Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court, and to sign, ratify and implement without delay the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocols, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights and its Optional Protocol, opting-in to its inquiry and inter-state procedures, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, and the International Convention for the Protection of
All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
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Statement on Transparency Reports for the Convention on Cluster Munitions
Mary Wareham Delivers Statement at the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention in Oslo
September 13, 2012

Thank you, Chair.

Three-quarters of States Parties have provided initial Article 7 transparency reports, and we congratulate them for that. However,
20 States Parties are late in submitting their initial transparency reports, including 12 that had submission deadlines in 2011. We
would like to see a 100% compliance rate for this important legal obligation. The lack of transparency reports from Chile and
Guinea-Bissau is of particular concern as they both have stockpiles to declare and destroy.

Ten of the 47 States Parties that have submitted initial Article 7 reports have yet to provide their annual updated report for 2011 that
was due by 30 April 2012. Providing the annual report should be a simple process as the cover page can be used to indicate no
change and only the forms containing new information need to be submitted.

We welcome the submission of voluntary reports by signatories Canada, DR Congo, and Palau, and urge other signatories to follow
this example by providing voluntary reports.

While it is the responsibility of States Parties to provide timely and complete reports, it can be a challenge to locate the reporting
template on the UN website. We would like to see these made more easily and readily accessible online. We welcome the
completion of the guide on transparency reporting that Belgium has produced and hope that this will assist States Parties to
compile, complete, and submit their reports.

Through the wealth of information provided in the transparency reports, we are beginning to get a fuller and more complete
understanding of how states are proceeding to implement the convention. Many Article 7 reports contain “good news” with respect
to swift destruction of cluster munition stockpiles and national implementation measures to provide a few examples. We welcome
the definitive statements that some States Parties have made in their Article 7 transparency reports that they do not possess
stockpiles, but others that we do not believe maintain any stocks have not made that clear in their reports.
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1 October 2012

Mr. President,

Palau is pleased to report on the success of a number of key domestic initiatives, which we have previously raised at the General

Palau has taken innovative steps to reduce our emissions by solarizing our airport, our government buildings, and our highways. By
2020, we will generate 20% of our energy from renewable sources. We have also created a successful green mortgage program to
assist the financing of greener homes. This program, which began with a small amount of financing from Italy, was recently the
subject of a workshop among thirteen regional financing institutions, with plans for expansion throughout Pacific.

Palau is also working to connect itself to the world - literally. While inconceivable here in New York, Palau remains without
broadband Internet. This means that no Palauan can watch the streaming video of this speech. The Broadband Commission of the
International Telecommunications Union tells us that broadband access is a prerequisite to achieving the Millennium Development
goals and that a 10% increase in broadband penetration increases a developing country's GDP by 1.4%. We are sure that a 100%
increase would fundamentally improve Palauan health, business, and civic engagement. We continue to seek partners that might
help us reach that goal.

Last year Palau underwent its Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. The most repeated recommendation by Human
Rights Council members was that we should establish a National Human Rights Institution. With the help of new partners, we are
translating human rights conventions into Palauan, bringing the lessons of international human rights into our schools, harmonizing
our national legislation, regulations, and practices with the international human rights instruments, and supporting human rights
programs and services in Palau through a formal institution.

All these activities have been complimented by the outstanding work being done to remove explosive remnants of World War II
from Palau. As President Toribiong stated from this podium last year, many of these explosives are still live, and are being
discovered near our schools, our roads, and our utilities. With the help of our partners, many of these explosives are being
destroyed, we hope that anyone interested in our efforts will attend our regional workshop in October to see first-hand the
successful model of cooperation between Palau's government, an NGO, donors, and the local community that is eradicating
unexploded ordnance from our midst.
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Palau’s President Nominates His Asst AG To Become The Republic’s Independent Special Prosecutor
Posted on August 2, 2012

It has been almost two and a half years since the departure of Palau’s last Special Prosecutor, Micheal Copeland, who resigned
February 1, 2010.  During this vacancy period, many outspoken critics of the President have complained that the absence of a
Special Prosecutor during much of the Toribiong Administration has been entirely purposeful.  In fact, the five “minority” Senators
who privately sued the President for alleged wrongful criminal and civil conduct while in office argued that such a suit would have
been filed by a Special Prosecutor, if there had only been one.

In defense, the President has consistently explained that he submitted a suitable candidate for the Special Prosecutor position nine
months after Copeland’s resignation, but that nominee was rejected without reason by the Senate.  The President has since held
steadfast that he will not submit another qualified nominee only to have them subjected to scrutiny and then rejected.

During his term of office, President Toribiong has all but dissolved the Special Prosecutor’s Office by transferring all of the former
Special Prosecutor’s investigative files and cases to the Attorney General’s Office.  In fact the Attorney General’s Office has
previously announced that it had assigned all of the SP’s files and investigations to Assistant AG Brently Foster.

In a somewhat startling pronouncement, by a letter dated August 1, 2012, the President now sees fit, five months before the end of
his term, to make another Special Prosecutor nomination and has put forth his current Assistant AG Brently Foster to be the next
Republic’s independent Special Prosecutor.

Unlike the Attorney General’s Office, who works under the direction and control of the President, the President is expressly
prohibited from interfering with the Special Prosecutor’s decisions or actions.  2 PNC §503(b).  In other words, the Special
Prosecutor does not work for the President and is tasked to be wholly independent.  The Special Prosecutor is statutorily
authorized to “act as the prosecutor” in cases where the President’s Ministry of Justice cannot for ethical reasons handle the case
or where there is “an actual or potential conflict of interest.” 2 PNC §503(2).

Whether the President’s current legal staff member can serve conflict-free as the nation’s independent counsel poses interesting
legal and ethical questions about the role and function of the Special Prosecutor.  When OTV asked the President for his comment
about this potential conflict, he that Ms. Foster is a professional and as such she will be obligated to handle matters free from any
actual or potential conflict.   Further, the President noted that Copeland was former President Remengesau’s Assistant Attorney
General prior to holding the Special Prosecutor post.

The President’s  letter refers to his “statutory obligation” to appoint a Special Prosecutor as the reason that he has nominated
Assistant AG Foster for the Senate’s consideration.
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Palau on pathway to establish NHRI
11 May 2011

The APF and the Government of the Republic of Palau have agreed to work together to explore the potential establishment of
national human rights institution in the Pacific Island country.

The agreement came at the end of a week-long visit in April 2011 by representatives of the APF and the Pacific Islands Forum
Secretariat (PIFS), following an invitation from Palau’s Minister of State.

During the visit, they met with senior members of the Government, Senators and Delegates, key Government advisors and civil
society representatives to discuss the benefits that a national human rights institution could bring to Palau.

The APF and PIFS will return to Palau later in the year to conduct a formal consultation, involving members of the government and
legislature, the judiciary, traditional leaders, non-governmental organisations and representatives from other key stakeholders,
including persons with disabilities, minority groups, faith-based groups and professional associations.

The primary goal of the consultation will be to obtain their views on establishing a national human rights institution and what model
would be most appropriate to Palau.

Following the consultation, a report will be prepared for the Government that summarises the key issues raised by stakeholders,
identifies a preferred model and sets out a clear roadmap for establishing a national human rights institution in line with the
international standards set out in the Paris Principles.

The Government of Palau reported on its work in partnership with the APF during its presentation to the United Nation’s Universal
Periodic Review in Geneva on 3 May 2011.

During the review, a number of States called on Palau to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris

Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship in 1994, Palau is one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states.

Located in the Pacific Ocean to the east of the Philippines, it has a population of approximately 21,000.

In April 2009, government representatives from Palau and other Pacific Island countries took part in a regional workshop to
examine pathways for establishing national human rights institutions.

Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Nauru are currently taking steps towards this goal.

The APF welcomes the commitment shown by the Government of Palau to advance human rights in the region.
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None reported.