14 January 1998

The Committee on the Rights of the Child this afternoon concluded its
consideration of an initial report presented by a Government delegation from
the Federated States of Micronesia and recommended that the Government
review its legislation to harmonize it with the provisions of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child.

In preliminary observations and conclusions, the Committee members
recommended, among other things, that the Government of Micronesia
establish an effective and permanent mechanism to collect data which would
enable it to determine the conditions of children.

During the discussion, Nina Eejima, Assistant Attorney General of the
Federated States of Micronesia, told Committee members that her country was
special because there were no homeless or street children thanks to the
extended family structure which took in children without care. Children born out
of wedlock and abandoned children bore no economic or social stigma
because of their easy assimilation within their extended families or clans.

Also during the afternoon meeting, Committee experts asked questions, among
other things, about such issues as intercountry adoption, youth suicide, early age
marriages, and abduction and sale of children.

The Federated States of Micronesia, as one of 191 States parties to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to submit periodic report to
the Committee. The Committee will issue its final observations and
recommendations on the report towards the end of its session which concludes
on 23 January.

When the Committee reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 15 January, it will
meet in private session to formulate its final conclusions and recommendations
on the three country reports it considered this session. They are the reports of
the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Ireland and Micronesia.


In response to queries raised by Committee members during the morning
session, the Micronesian delegate said that there were no separate juvenile
courts to deal with children in conflict with the law. However, the Juvenile Code
mandated courts to adopt flexible procedures in juvenile cases.

Concerning early age marriages, the delegate said that no action or law
restricted the traditional marriages which involved minors. Traditional marriages
were widely accepted throughout the country and there was no legislation
prohibiting either the traditional marriages or marriages involving minors.
Nevertheless, early traditional marriages between young men and women were
discouraged in most communities by respective families with the hope that the
children would further their education.

A question was raised on whether sex education was available in schools. The
delegate said that she was not aware of the existence of sex education and said
that she would provide the Committee with written answers. Concerning the
age limit for medical consultation, she said that there was no age limit at all. Any
child seeking medical assistance could see a medical practitioner for treatment.
She said she was not aware of a legal provision restricting children from
medical consultation.

Asked if children under 18 years of age could be drafted into the army, the
delegate said that following the United States' recruitment system, young
persons above 18 years of age could be drafted into the army.

Micronesia had a special situation because there were no homeless or street
children thanks to the extended family structure of the society which took in
children without care. Children born out of wedlock and abandoned children
bore no economic or social stigma. They were easily assimilated within their
extended families or clans.

The delegate said that her Government had no immediate intention to ratify the
Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of
Intercountry Adoption of 1993 for the simple reason that such adoptions
occurred rarely. However, within the country, customary and judiciary adoption
procedures were carried out. Children adopted traditionally continued to be in
contact with their parents while dwelling with their adoptive families.
Concerning the judicial adoption of children, the court was satisfied in the
adoption process by ensuring the best interest of the child, the delegate said.
The court took into consideration the consent of any child over the age of 12
before adoption. The courts had no authority on the adoption procedures of
local customs. A local adoption usually required nothing more than parents
willing to give up their child and foster parents willing to accept the child.
Consequently, there were no safeguards that such an adoption was in the best
interest of the child, said the delegate.

A question was asked if cases of abducted children were common in
Micronesia. The delegate affirmed that there were no known incidents of
abduction or sale of children in the country. Because of the smallness of the
islands and the scarcity of the population, it was difficult to carry out such acts,
she added.

With regard to the problem of suicide among the youth, which was raised again
this afternoon, the delegate said that no action had been taken so far by the
Government to avert the increasing rate of suicide. She believed that the
Government should play a key role in addressing this tragic problem.
Concerning the abuse and neglect of children, the delegate said that culturally,
many people had to be educated and made to understand what types of
behaviour might constitute abuse as well as its damaging effects on children.
The lack of legislative constraints were largely due to inadequate funding and
support. Part of the legislative malaise was the result of inadequate information
to convince lawmakers of the growing problem.

The delegate recognized that United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) had
contributed a lot to the development of programmes pertaining to the rights of
children in Micronesia.

Preliminary Observations and Recommendations

The Committee members appreciated the efforts of the one-woman delegation
of Micronesia who throughout the sessions attempted to provide additional
information to the Committee. They said that the report depicted the real
picture of the country.

Committee experts said that, as the report indicated about the constraints the
Government encountered to implement the provisions of the Convention, it was
evident that the Government itself could not cope with the problem before the
next periodic report.

Experts recommended that effective and permanent mechanisms should be
designed in order to collect data concerning the conditions of the country's
children in general. They also recommended that the Government seek
international cooperation to foster programmes aimed at promoting the rights of children.

The Committee also recommended that the Government improve its education
system; harmonize its legislation with the provisions of the Convention; and
improve its criminal justice system in line with the definition of the child.