| Home|Acknowledgments |About Us |Contact Us |Resources |Jurisdiction Research |Research Summary |Terms of Use |

 

 

 

Micronesia [1] [print]

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)

 

Federal Statutes

 

Code of Federated States of Micronesia, Title 6, Judicial Procedure[2]

 

§ 1633.  Persons to be notified or consents to be obtained.

 

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[3]


§ 501. Declaration of policy.

It is the policy of the Trust Territory government to provide for the protection of children who have injuries inflicted upon them and who, in the absence of appropriate reports concerning their conditions and circumstances, may be further threatened or injured by the conduct of those responsible for their care and protection.


§ 502. Definitions.

When used in this Chapter, unless the specific content indicates otherwise:

(1) "Abuse" means any case in which a child exhibits evidence of skin bruising, bleeding, sexual molestation, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, soft-tissue swelling, and such condition or death is not justifiably explained, or the history given concerning such condition or death is at variance with the degree or type of such condition or death, or the circumstances indicate that such condition or death may not be the product of an accidental occurrence.

(2) "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.

(3) "Person" means any physician, dentist, including interns, health assistant, medex, nurse, practical nurse, schoolteacher or other school official, day-care worker, peace officer, or law enforcement official.


§ 503. Reporting requirements and procedure.

(1) Every person examining, attending, teaching, or treating a child and having reason to believe that such child has had serious injury or injuries, either physical or mental, inflicted upon him or her as a result of abuse, shall report the matter promptly to the chief of police of the district involved.

(2) When attendance with respect to a child is pursuant to the performance of services as a member of the staff of a district hospital or a Government medical facility in the district centre of the administrative district, such staff member shall immediately notify the district director of health services or another person in charge who shall make the report forthwith.

(3) If the person attending a child is a schoolteacher or other school official, he shall report such abuse to his supervisor or other person in charge of the school and such matter shall then be promptly reported by the latter to the chief of police.

(4) If the report is not made in writing in the first instance, it shall be reduced to writing by the maker thereof as soon as possible after it is initially made by telephone or otherwise, and shall contain the name and address of the child and his or her parents or other persons responsible for his or her care if known, the child's age, the nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries, and any other information that the maker of the report believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the person or persons responsible therefor.


§ 504. Immunity of reporting persons from liability.

Anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this Chapter shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Likewise, any such participant shall have full immunity with respect to any evidence, oral or written, or any other testimony which he or she might provide in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.


§ 505. Physician- patient privilege not applicable.

In any proceeding resulting from a report made pursuant to this Chapter or in any proceeding where such a report or any contents thereof are sought to be introduced in evidence, such report or contents or any other fact or facts related thereto or to the condition of the child who is the subject of the report shall not be excluded on the ground that the matter is or may be the subject of a physician-patient privilege.


§ 506. Violations- Penalties.

Anyone knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of this Chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than $500, or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.

 

State Law

 

State of Kosrae

 

Kosrae State Code[4]

 

(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[5]

 

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[6]

 

 § 1404.  Consent of child over 12 required.

Adoption of a child of over the age of 12 years shall not be granted without the consent of the child.

.

§ 1405.  Appearance of child.

No adoption shall be granted under this title without the child proposed for adoption appearing before the court.

 

O'Sonis v. Truk[7]

 

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[8]

 

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[9]

 

§206.  Sexual abuse.

 

(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[10]

 

United Nations Press Release on its Consideration of Micronesia's Convention on the Rights of the Child Report[11]

 

Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1995, Addendum, Federated States of Micronesia[12]

 

Mariano N. Marcus, Child Abuse and Neglect in Micronesia, Micronesian Counselor #02[13]

 



Endnotes

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

[2] Micr. Code tit. 6, § 1633, available at http://www.fsmlaw.org/fsm/code/title06/T06_Ch16.htm#III.

[3] Micr. Code tit. 41, §§ 501-06, available at http://www.fsmlaw.org/fsm/code/title41/T41_Ch05.htm

[4] Kosrae State Code, § 6.3103, available at http://fsmlaw.org/kosrae/code/title06/t06p03c31.htm.

[5] Chuuk Const. art. IV, § 1, available at http://fsmlaw.org/chuuk/constitution/article04.htm.

[6] Chuuk State Code tit. 23, §§ 1404-05, available at http://fsmlaw.org/chuuk/code/title23/T23_Ch07.htm.

[7] 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.

[8] Pohnpei Const. art. 5, available at http://www.fm/PohnpeiLeg/docs/PohnConst_Eng.doc

[9] Yap State Code tit. 11, available at http://fsmlaw.org/yap/code/title11/T11_Ch02.htm

[10] 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

[11] 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

[12] 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.

[13] 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.

 

Representing Children Worldwide | Copyright 2005 Yale Law School |All Rights Reserved