The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Micronesia is not a state party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 21 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly. 

The right of peaceful assembly is, though, a fundamental human right that is part of the corpus of customary international law. It is also a general principle of law.See Art. 38(1), 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism.

The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Constitutional Provisions

The 1979 Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia provides that: "No law may deny or impair freedom of ... peaceable assembly".

National Legislation

There is not believed to be specific legislation governing assemblies in Micronesia.

The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies

The Use of Force

International Legal Rules

Under international law, the duty on the state and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:

In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.

All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.

National Legislation

There is not believed to be specific legislation governing police use of force, including during assemblies. In 2018, Johnny Santos, Micronesia's Chief of National Police was quoted as saying:

Human rights is an area I am not too familiar with, I know my government has made agreements to uphold human rights but I’ve never really known what exactly those agreements were.

According to the 1984 Supreme Court judgment in the Loch case, a police officer may not employ more force than he reasonably believes to be necessary, either to effect arrest or to defend himself. 

The Use of Firearms

International Legal Rules

According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life. 

National Legislation

There is not believed to be specific legislation governing police use of firearms, including during assemblies. In its 1984 judgment in the Loch case, the Supreme Court held that deadly force by a police officer attempting to effect an arrest may be justified by evidence indicating the defendant reasonably believes that there is no alternative method of effecting the arrest and that deadly force is necessary as a last resort. The reasonableness of a police officer's conduct in using deadly force while making an arrest must be assessed on the basis of the information the police officer had when he acted. It is quite reasonable for a police officer, who uses a deadly weapon in deadly fashion against a person armed with a knife, to obtain a weapon that will afford him a means of protecting himself against the knife and intimidating the person to be arrested. 

But where a police officer arms himself with a weapon to arrest a man armed with a knife, and then uses the weapon in a deadly fashion without first giving the person an opportunity to submit and without determining whether the person intends to use the knife to prevent arrest, this use of force cannot be viewed as a last resort necessary to the arrest not as reasonably necessary to protect the police officer from serious bodily injury. 

State Compliance with its Legal Obligations

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

Micronesia is not a state party to the ICCPR.

In the 2015 Universal Periodic Review of Micronesia under the UN Human Rights Council, the right of peaceful assembly was not addressed.

Downloads

1979 Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia - Download (60 KB)