The Honorable Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President Of The Republic Of Palau

MARCH 14, 2002


STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TOMMY E. REMENGESAU, JR.

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF PALAU

On the Occasion of the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the

Government of Palau and the United States Department of Justice,
Civil Rights Division,

Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices


I WANT TO THANK ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN BOYD, AND SPECIAL COUNSEL JUAN CARLOS BENITEZ, FOR SUPPORTING THIS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - PALAU INITIATIVE TO PROTECT THE CIVAL RIGHTS OF PALAUANS RESIDING AND WORKING IN THE UNITED STATES. THIS MAY BE THE FIRST OF ITS KIND FOR ANY PACIFIC ISLAND STATE.


SPECIAL COUNSEL BENITEZ MET WITH ME IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR IN SAIPAN AND RAISED THE IDEA OF A COOPERATIVE EFFORT TO PROTECT PALAUANS IN THE UNITED STATES FROM ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION. THE SPECIAL COUNSEL'S PROPOSAL STRUCK A CHORD AS IT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE CLOSE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE U.S. AND PALAU BASED ON THE COMPACT OF FREE ASSOCIATION.


PALAU IS ONE OF THE CLOSEST ALLIES OF THE UNITED STATES AMONG THE PACIFIC ISLAND STATES. WE RESPONDED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRAGEDY OF SEPTEMBER 11TH BY WORKING WITH THE U.S. AND IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA TO COMBAT TERRORISM.


I AM IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK TO REPORT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, THE CONGRESS, AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON PALAU'S PROGRESS UNDER THE COMPACT OF FREE ASSOCIATION. I ALSO WANT TO STRENGTHEN OUR CLOSE PARTNERSHIP IN MANY AREAS, LIKE THE ONE TODAY WITH JUSTICE.


I AM PLEASED TO REPORT THAT AFTER NEARLY EIGHT YEARS SINCE THE COMPACT WENT INTO EFFECT ON OCTOBER 1, 1994, OUR FREE ASSOCIATION RELATIONSHIP IS A SUCCESS. PALAU HAS MADE GREAT STRIDES TOWARD ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY. WE ARE NOT THERE YET, BUT DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE IN PROVIDING BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS SUCH AS WATER AND ELECTRICITY TO ALL RESIDENTS OF THE 16 STATES OF THE BIG ISLAND. IN ADDITION, PALAU'S PRIVATE SECTOR HAS GROWN AND CREATED NEW JOBS AND LOCAL REVENUES. FURTHER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WILL BE POSSIBLE BY THE JUST COMPLETED BRIDGE CONNECTING THE TWO MAJOR ISLANDS, UPGRADE OF THE AIRPORT, RELOCATION OF THE CAPITAL, AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE COMPACT ROAD AROUND THE BIG ISLAND.


WE ARE WORKING WITH THE U.S. TO IMPROVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS, WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL FOR DEFENSE COMMUNICATIONS AND A ROBUST PRIVATE SECTOR. COST EFFECTIVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS IS ALSO EXPECTED TO IMPROVE PALAU'S CAPABILITIES IN THE HEATH AND EDUCATION FIELDS. U.S. INVESTMENT IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE NOT ONLY DUE TO IMPROVED TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUT ALSO DUE TO THE EXTENSION OF OVERSEAS PRIVATE INVESTMENT CORPORATION ELIGIBILITY TO PALAU, WHICH WILL BE EFFECTIVE UPON SIGNING OF A BILATERAL AGREEMENT HERE IN WASHINGTON TOMORROW.


TODAY'S MOU WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION WILL ESTABLISH A MECHANISM TO INSURE THAT PALAUANS RESIDING IN THE U.S. WILL BE PROTECTED FROM ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES. THE SPECIAL COUNSEL'S OFFICE WILL TRAIN EMPLOYEES IN THE PALAU EMBASSY ON THE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF BOTH WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS UNDER U.S. LAW. IN ADDITION, THE SPECIAL COUNSEL'S OFFICE WILL CONSULT WITH THE PALAU EMBASSY ON OUTREACH AND EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS DIRECTED TOWARD THE PALAUAN COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES. WHILE I DO NOT EXPECT THERE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF CASES OF ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PALAUANS, IF THIS MEMORANDUM WILL PROTECT EVEN ONE PERSON FROM THE HARSH EFFECTS OF ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION, IT WILL BE WELL WORTH OUR EFFORTS.


I BELIEVE THE MEMORANDUM WILL SERVE AS A MODEL FOR OTHER COOPERATIVE EFFORTS TO THE MUTUAL BENEFIT OF BOTH PALAU AND THE UNITED STATES. I ESPECIALLY LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO ESTABLISH INFORMATION SHARING FOR CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS, IMPROVE DRUG INTERDICTION EFFORTS, AND ENHANCE PALAUAN JUDICIAL CAPABILITIES TO DEAL WITH DRUG PREVENTION AND REHABILITATION, AS WELL AS JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT MATTERS.


LET ME AGAIN THANK ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL BOYD AND SPECIAL COUNSEL BENITEZ FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF THIS COOPERATIVE INITIATIVE, WHICH WILL HELP PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF BOTH RESIDENT PALAUNS AND U.S. CITIZENS FROM ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT

DISCRIMINATION.

Updated August 6, 2015

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