U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Palau
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Palau, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1b24.html [accessed 12 July 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
PALAUFormerly a United Nations trusteeship administered by the United States, Palau became an independent nation in free association with the United States on October 1, 1994. Under the Compact of Free Association, the United States is responsible for the Republic of Palau's defense. An archipelago of more than 300islands in the Western Pacific, Palau has a total land area of 188 square miles and is organized politically into 16 states. More than two-thirds of its approximately 18,000 population resides in or near the temporary capital, Koror. The democratically elected Government is modeled after that of the United States. The Constitution, which took effect on January 1, 1981, provides for free and fair elections, executive and legislative branches, and an independent judiciary. The legislature, the Olbil Era Kelulau, is composed of two equal houses, the 14-member Senate and the 16-member House of Delegates. The judiciary is independent in practice. Palau has no security forces of its own, aside from local police and other civilian law enforcement personnel, all of whom are under the firm control of civil authorities. With a household median income of over $12,000, Palau is a medium income country with a small, market-based economy largely sustained by transfer payments from the United States. Nearly half the work force is employed by government entities. Tourism and other service sectors account for most other paid employment. Tuna, harvested by foreign operated fleets, is the dominant export. Several small-scale operations, employing foreign workers, assemble clothing for export from imported materials. Most of the population still work in traditional subsistence agriculture and fishing. Traditional customs sustain a value system that distinguishes between people on the basis of social status and sex. The loosening ties of the extended family and the increasing abuse of alcohol and other drugs are major contributing factors that lead instances of domestic violence and child neglect. Societal discrimination against certain foreign workers, who account for nearly 25 percent of the popUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUthe Government work force, is also a serious problem.