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Palau[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

Palau ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in August of 1995, only months after gaining independence from the United States.  Despite the CRC's ratification, the Convention does not have legal authority in Palau.  As the Palau National Committee on Population and Children [CoPopChi] reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Given that the Code makes no reference to the legal authority of international conventions, the Attorney-General therefore concludes that the Convention on the Rights of the Child may not be directly invoked before the courts unless the relevant article(s) of the Convention have first been enacted into the Palau Code by act of the [Olbiil Era Kalulau (National Congress)].”[2]

Palau has a formal child protection system headed by CoPopChi, an inter-agency committee responsible for promoting the rights of children and offering training to both professionals and the general public.  CoPopChi does not, however, have the authority to take any action on a child's behalf.  Child maltreatment and neglect is reported to the Director of the Bureau of Public Safety, which investigates and submits a report on the situation of the child to the Office of the Attorney General and to the Division of Social Services.[3]  The Victim of Crime Assistance Programme also offers support services to children.  In practice, however, few child abuse or neglect cases are handled by the courts.  Instead, cases are handled in traditional settings by clan elders.  Decisions by clan elders in family matters are given legal recognition by Palauan law.

The CRC's Article 12, which gives children the right to express an opinion in matters affecting them, is not implemented in legislation related to protective proceedings.  CoPopChi reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that consultation of a child is up to the discretion of the judge.  Furthermore, Palauan tradition generally impedes the application of Article 12 in clan decisions.  Customary Palauan rules call for children to obey their elders (olngesenges ra r'meklou ‘I chad) and to know the appropriate time, place and manner of speaking (medngei a kirel ma diak el kirel mesaod ma belsechel ‘longed-cheduch).[4]  Palauan law does, however, require the consent of children over 12 in adoption proceedings.  Also, children accused of crimes have the right to testify.  It should be noted that we were unable to contact officials in Palau to confirm that this information is up to date.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Statutes

Palau National Code[5]

Title 21. Domestic Relations

Chapter 6. Child Abuse

§ 601. Declaration of policy.

It is the policy of the National Government to provide for the protection of children who are subject to abuse, sexual abuse or neglect and who, in the absence of appropriate reports concerning their conditions and circumstances, may be further abused, sexually abused, or neglected by the conduct of those responsible for their care and protection.

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997 Addendum: Palau, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Oct. 21, 1998, ¶7, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/51/Add.3 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] 21 PNCA §603(e) (1995) available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997 Addendum: Palau, ¶79, supra note 1.

[5] 21 PNCA §601 (1995).

 

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