Last Updated 30 May 2023

The Federated States of Micronesia is a nation located in the western Pacific Ocean and made up of more than 600 individual islands which are ruled by a parliamentary republic without established political parties. A high percentage of the population is religious, with a majority declaring themselves to be Christian.1https://countryeconomy.com/demography/religions/micronesia

Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

The Constitution and government of Micronesia protect religious freedom and ensure religious equality for all. The Constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are generally respected in practice.

The Constitution explicitly forbids the establishment of a state religion or governmental restrictions on freedom of religion, “except that assistance may be provided to parochial schools for nonreligious purposes” (Section 2, Article IV).2https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Micronesia_1990.pdf?lang=en

However, Government functions normally open and close with a prayer, invocation, or benediction from a Protestant or Catholic pastor or lay deacon, and often from one of each.3https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/micronesia/

Education and children’s rights

Religious instruction is absent in public schools, which are secular. The government provides grants to private religious (church-affiliated) schools. As stated under the Constitution, such grants must be used only for activities which are not religious in nature. Private religious schools may deliver religious instruction in addition to the national curriculum.4https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/micronesia/

Family, community and society

We know of no reports of individuals being directly discriminated against for irreligiosity. However, there are a few reports concerning prejudice against other belief minorities. For example, Ahmadiyya Muslims in Kosrae State reported in 2018 that they faced slow police responses to incidents of discrimination and vandalism; and some Christians on social media advocated amending the Constitution to prohibit the presence of non-Christian religious groups.5https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-report-on-international-religious-freedom/micronesia/

Custom, traditions and gender equality

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has expressed concern about “the persistence of adverse cultural norms and practices as well as deep-rooted discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society.” The Committee argues that such stereotypes and practices result in women’s “disadvantaged status in marriage and family relations and contribute to the high prevalence of gender-based violence against women.”6CEDAW Committee, Concluding observations on the combined initial to third
periodic reports of the Federated States of Micronesia (2017), CEDAW/C/FSM/CO/1-3

“Culture” is frequently invoked as justification for discrimination and violence against women and girls. Early marriage is reportedly common in Micronesia, and cases of gender-based violence are frequently underreported due to cultural beliefs around preserving family “honor.” The Sexual Rights Information of Micronesia reports that there is “a culture of silence and stigma, especially when it occurs within the “sanctuary” of the home.”7http://www.mulabilatino.org/epu/9th%20round/Micronesia.pdf

Constitutional provisions also allow for the preference of tradition over formal provisions. For instance, a section in the Constitution on “Traditional Rights” provides that no other provision in the Constitution “takes away a role or function of a traditional leader as recognized by custom and tradition, or prevents a traditional leader from being recognized, honored, and given formal or functional roles at any level of government as may be prescribed by this Constitution or by statute.” The same section provides that, “the traditions of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia may be protected by statute” and that, if any tradition is challenged as violative of a right protected under Article IV of the Constitution, the “protection of Micronesian tradition shall be considered a compelling social purpose warranting governmental action.”8https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Micronesia_1990.pdf?lang=en

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

The Constitution protects freedom of expression and media freedom, and journalists and media professionals generally operate in a safe environment.9https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/documents/2021-02/a_hrc_wg.6_37_micronesia_1_en.pdf

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