Last edited: January 2006
Summary and Analysis
We have been unsuccessful in locating an expert in child protection in Micronesia, despite numerous attempts to contact such individuals. However, through various UN Reports about Micronesia's compliance with the CRC and other writing about Micronesia we have been able to piece together the following description of child protection in Micronesia. Part of our difficultly in contacting and expert was that the issue of child abuse and neglect is just beginning to surface across Micronesia. Strong cultural values that favor a lack of formal state intervention in family affairs has contributed to the problem of abuse and neglect being largely ignored for many years. Additionally, poverty, malnourishment and other childhood diseases have been a problem in Micronesia and have been the focus of many NGOs.
In the late 1990s, Micronesia did enact a child abuse statute complete with a mandatory reporting requirement. Still, this statute largely has no bite at this time. Micronesia set up the Child Abuse and Neglect Programme (CAN) in 1991, with funding from the United States. However, this funding terminated in October 1993, and the FSM Congress took over full responsibility for funding CAN as of October 1994. The CAN program seeks to provide culturally sensitive services and tries to provide education to families where abuse or neglect has occurred. CAN operates outside of the court system and since its implementation, no child has been removed from his or her home owing to physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse. All cases have been taken care of within the home. The CAN program has been slow to develop and spread, and there is a lot of resistance to it. Abused or neglected children do not have any form of representation when working with CAN.
Micronesia is just beginning to collect data on child abuse and neglect, though most experts believe there is almost certainly significant under-reporting. The numbers of cases reported may have more to do with cultural values and restraints than actual distribution or incidence of the problems (more cases which are of a less culturally sensitive nature are reported). In 1995 the UN reviewing committee on Micronesia's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child found that “while the breakdown in the traditional social support system is believed to be leading to an increased incidence of child abuse, the confidentiality that was also a part of that support system has not eroded” and thus significant underreporting is a problem. At present, it appears that many of the interventions are for educational and medical neglect (i.e., children being kept away from school or infants that have not been taken to medical facilities), rather than physical neglect or abuse (including sexual). Yap is the only state to have used the Public Safety Department in child abuse and neglect cases.
Protection for children who are abused and neglected is at a rudimentary stage in Micronesia, and large parts of the population have not been education about what type of behavior constitutes abuse and neglect. Micronesia is just in the beginning phases of implementing a child protection program, despite fairly advanced laws. Implementing these laws is the part that is lagging. The issue of child representation in child protection cases has not been dealt with in Micronesia since children are not removed from their homes and child abuse cases are dealt with outside of the judicial system.
Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
Code of Federated States of Micronesia, Title 6, Judicial Procedure
No adoption shall be granted without either the written consent of, or notice to, each of the known living legal parents who has not been adjudged insane or incompetent or has not abandoned the child for a period of six months, nor shall any adoption of a child of over the age of twelve years be granted without the consent of the child.
Code of Federated States of Micronesia, Title 41, Public Health, Safety, and Welfare
State of Kosrae
Kosrae State Code
(1) The Court may not grant an adoption without either the written consent of, or notice to a known living legal parent whom a Court has not found insane or incompetent or who has not abandoned the child for a period of six months, or without the consent of a child over the age of twelve years who is the subject of adoption.
State of Chuuk
State of Chuuk Constitution
Section 1. Existing Chuukese custom and tradition shall be respected. The Legislature may prescribe by statute for their protection. If challenged as violative of Article III, protection of Chuukese custom and tradition shall be considered a compelling social purpose warranting such governmental action.
Chuuk State Code, Title 23, Family Law
Adoption of a child of over the age of 12 years shall not be granted without the consent of the child.
No adoption shall be granted under this title without the child proposed for adoption appearing before the court.
O'Sonis v. Truk
Stating that even when the parties have not raised an issue of custom or tradition, the court has an obligation of its own to consider custom and tradition.
State Of Pohnpei
Pohnpei State Constitution
Section 1. Customs and Traditions. This Constitution upholds, respects, and protects the customs and traditions of the traditional kingdoms in Pohnpei.
Section 2. Protection of Customs and Traditions. The Government of Pohnpei shall respect and protect the customs and traditions of Pohnpei. Statutes may be enacted to uphold customs or traditions. If such a statute is challenged as violating the rights guaranteed by this Constitution, it shall be upheld upon proof of the existence and regular practice of the custom or tradition and the reasonableness of the means established for its protection, as determined by the Pohnpei Supreme Court.
Section 3. Family Obligations.
(1) To strengthen and retain good family relations in Pohnpei, as needed, this Constitution recognizes and protects the responsibility and authority of parents over their children.
(2) This Constitution also acknowledges the duties and rights of children in regard to respect and good family relations as needed.
A draft Pohnpei State Code is currently being considered for enactment by the Pohnpei Legislature.
State of Yap
Yap State Code
(a) Every person who intentionally has sexual contact with another person who is less than thirteen years old or causes such a person to have sexual contact with him, is guilty of sexual abuse, and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned for a period of not more than ten years, or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.
(b) It is an affirmative defense that the defendant reasonably believed the child to be older than thirteen.
Additional Resources and Links
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Federated States of Micronesia
United Nations Press Release on its Consideration of Micronesia's Convention on the Rights of the Child Report
Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1995, Addendum, Federated States of Micronesia
Mariano N. Marcus, Child Abuse and Neglect in Micronesia, Micronesian Counselor #02
 Micr. Code tit. 6, § 1633, available at http://www.fsmlaw.org/fsm/code/title06/T06_Ch16.htm#III.
 Micr. Code tit. 41, §§ 501-06, available at http://www.fsmlaw.org/fsm/code/title41/T41_Ch05.htm
 Kosrae State Code, § 6.3103, available at http://fsmlaw.org/kosrae/code/title06/t06p03c31.htm.
 Chuuk Const. art. IV, § 1, available at http://fsmlaw.org/chuuk/constitution/article04.htm.
 O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988) available at http://fsmlaw.org/fsm/decisions/vol3/3fsm516_518.htm.
 U.N. Comm. on the Rights of the Child [CRC], Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Federated States of Micronesia, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.86 (Jan. 23, 1998), available at http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord1998/documentation/tbodies/crc-c-15-add86.htm, and also http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/e43ddc892f91a5a78025659f0051b286?Opendocument
 United Nations Press Release on its Consideration of Micronesia's Convention on the Rights of the Child Report (Jan. 1998) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/0/85611CB0F8B76FB1C125662E00352F16?opendocument
 U.N. Comm. on the Rights of the Child [CRC], Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1995, Addendum, Federated States of Micronesia (June 17, 1996) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/30cb3458d86f92ecc12563e7004b95f1?Opendocument.
 Mariano N. Marcus, Child Abuse and Neglect in Micronesia, Micronesian Counselor #02 (Apr. 1991), http://www.micsem.org/pubs/counselor/frames/abusnegfr.htm?http&&&www.micsem.org/pubs/counselor/abusneg.htm.
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