Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM develops justice guidelines to protect young people

Palikir, POHNPEI (Department of Justice/FSM Information Service): April 4, 2006 - Protecting the rights of young people has been the focus of a project run by the FSM Department of Justice over the last 12 months, in collaboration with the Australian aid agency, AusAID.

With funds made available in April 2005 by the AusAID Human Rights Small Grants Scheme, the Department of Justice assembled a project team to examine the special issues justice sector stakeholders must consider when dealing with juveniles. For almost a year, this project team has researched and developed a number of Juvenile Justice Principles, which are proposed to guide the administration of juvenile justice.

The project was developed by the FSM as part of its implementation of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN Convention requires countries to create systems of justice that support young people who have either committed offenses or become victims of crime. The UN Convention primarily focuses on ensuring the best interest of the child and seeks to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Signatory nations are expected to develop judicial systems, which recognize their responsibilities in dealing with and protecting juveniles. The FSM became a signatory to this Convention in 1993.

To support the Juvenile Justice Principles, policy and operational guidelines were prepared to help justice personnel, such as police, prosecutors, court staff and corrections officers, in the manner which they deal with young offenders or victims of crime.

The FSM Secretary for Justice, Ms. Marstella Jack on March 22, 2006, officially released the guidelines, contained in the FSM Justice Sector Children's Handbook. In releasing the Handbook Ms. Jack said, " The Justice System has an important role to play in ensuring juvenile offenders and victims of crime are dealt with in a way which helps those young people rebuild their lives."

Over 150 community members and justice personnel were consulted in all four FSM States during the early stages of the project. From these consultation workshops project team members learned the key issues that are considered essential in protecting the rights and welfare of young people to be protected but also for those young people to accept responsibility for their actions.

As part of the objectives of the project, the FSM Department of Justice also prepared a draft Juvenile Justice Act for consideration by State Legislatures. This draft Act is intended to assist the States identify the statutory provisions necessary in the proper administration of juvenile justice. It is up to the States to examine the contents of the draft Act and consider enacting similar laws. The intention of the draft Act is to provide every opportunity for young people to be dealt with by courts in a way, which will assist young people to not re-offend and to become integral members of the community.

Over the last month, the project team has delivered training on the juvenile justice guidelines to almost 140 police, prosecutors and judicial officers in all four states.

Secretary Jack stated, "Our youth are our future and it is critical that communities throughout the FSM do everything possible to protect the rights and welfare of young people.

The project completion report was handed to the Australian Ambassador to the FSM, Her Excellency Ambassador Corrine Tomkinson shortly after the launch of the Handbook.

The FSM was one of the ten Asia/Pacific countries to receive funds from the AusAID Human Rights Small Grants Scheme announced by the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Mr. Alexander Downer on the December 10, 2004.

For further information on this release, please contact:

Project Manager: Mr. Douglas Hastings - FSM DOJ (691) 320-2680, or
Project Team: Ms. Donna Wrembeck - (691) 320-2680 or 2644
Mr. Timothy Fenlon