Kiribati

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Persistent violations
  • Child labour[1]
  • Violence against children[2]
  • Corporal punishment[3]
  • Sexual exploitation of children[4]
  • Inadequate juvenile justice system[5]
  • Detention of children with adults[6]
  • Inadequate provision for children with disabilities[7]
  • Discrimination against children from economically disadvantaged families[8]
  • Inadequate education provision and discrimination against girls in education[9]
  • Inadequate health provision for children[10]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

The three island groups that make up Kiribati cover over five million square kilometres of the Pacific - though, with no land more than three metres above sea level, it is expected to be the first nation to lose all its territory due to climate change. Independent from Britain since 1979, Kiribati’s president is both head of state and of government, appointed by and from a 45 member elected legislative assembly. Kiribati’s major issue in human rights is its lack of capacity to engage with - and only limited ratification of - UN treaty bodies and relevant mechanisms, alongside issues of corporal punishment and life sentencing for both children and adults.

Geography

The Republic of Kiribati, formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, comprises 33 atolls stretching across five million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean.

Situated midway between Hawaii and Australia, Kiribati is made up of three groups of islands: the Gilbert, Line and Phoenix groups. The effects of climate change present a significant challenge for the chain of islands - which risk submersion - as no part of the territory rises more than three metres above sea level.

The capital of Kiribati is Tarawa Atoll.

Population and language

The country's population is 101,100, of which the Gilbert Islands is home to more than 80 per cent.[1] However, as a result of severe overcrowding on the island of South Tarawa in the 1990s, a government programme supported the migration of 5,000 of its inhabitants to the Line Islands. The Phoenix Islands have never had a permanent population.

The population of Kiribati is relatively homogenous, and is mostly made up of Micronesians and descendants from neighbouring Melanesian and Polynesian States. According to the 2005 census, the median age of inhabitants is 20.7.[2]

The official language is English, but Gilbertese/Kiribati is widely used.

Politics

Kiribati became a sovereign democratic republic in 1979 after achieving independence from Britain. The president is head of state and head of government. The unicameral legislative assembly (Maneaba) has 45 members; the number of representatives from each constituency is determined by population size. While political parties exist, most candidates present themselves as independent.

Economy

The economy is weak and depends on foreign aid and remittances from abroad; it is classified as a Least Developed Country. The country's chief exports are coconut-based products, fish, seaweed and shark fins; fishing licences and tourism are also important industries. A trust fund financed by revenues from phosphate mining, which is no longer in operation, on the island of Banaba contributes to government assets. Kiribati's main trading partners are Australia and Japan.

Media and civil society

All forms of media enjoy a relatively free and open environment in Kiribati. However, a restrictive law governing the registration of newspapers was approved in 2002, meeting with local and international criticism. The Newspaper Registration Amendment Bill transferred matters dealing with newspaper registration from the Attorney General's office to the Ministry of Communications and Information and, among its controversial provisions, authorises the closure of newspapers facing complaints.[3]

Human rights and children's rights

Kiribati became a member of the UN in 1999, but has no Permanent Mission in New York - its vote is therefore cast by New Zealand in a proxy agreement. Kiribati has ratified just two core international human rights treaties: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In the CRC's Concluding Observations from 2006, the Committee highlighted the lack of legislation protecting children's rights.[4] Children, like adults, may be sentenced to life imprisonment or corporal punishment.[5]

  1. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, "Kiribati: Good Leadership Report"
  2. Kiribati National Statistics Office, "2005 Census of Population and Housing"
  3. IFEX, "Government pushes through tougher newspaper laws" 10 October 2002
  4. Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Kiribati's First Periodic Report, September 2006
  5. Child Rights International Network (CRIN), "Kiribati: Inhuman Sentencing of Children" April 2011

Sources:

Quick Facts

  • Population: 102,700 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 36,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of Internet users: 10,074 (9.9% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 121 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet Index ranking: N/A