Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Majuro and Ebeye jail authorities routinely held drunk prisoners naked. Government officials stated they did this so that prisoners could not use their clothing to attempt suicide.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Treatment of prisoners and prison conditions were harsh and at times degrading.
Physical Conditions: No specialized prison facilities existed for juvenile or adult female prisoners at the jail in Majuro. Authorities did not hold women with men in the Majuro jail. Generally, female prisoners in the capital were held under house arrest, which involved taking away their passports and confining them to their homes at night. According to prison guards, in a few isolated incidents, women arrested for driving under the influence were held with male prisoners for 24 to 48 hours, usually over a weekend or local holiday, when it was not possible to process them quickly enough to put them immediately under house arrest.
A chief complaint in the Majuro jail was the lack of adequate ventilation. Prisoners were cramped in small cells with no air conditioning, windows, or fans, while the daily temperature outside was usually above 90 degrees. Prisoners had to supply their own electric fans. Lighting in cells was inadequate; prisoners had to supply their own lamps or other light sources. The facility was unsanitary; the guards reported that there were no janitors, and prisoners were given cleaning products.
The jail in Ebeye on Kwajalein Atoll, attached to the courthouse, is the only detention facility in the country other than the Majuro jail. In 2017 High Court judge Colin Winchester described Ebeye’s jail as “horrible” and “degrading for anyone who must be confined in it.” According to the judge, he observed 10 individuals incarcerated there, and “if there are two or three people there, it is at its humane limit.” National Police officials commented that Ebeye is supposed to send all prisoners to Majuro jail but does not always do so because of the high cost of transportation.
Authorities allowed prisoners to leave facilities periodically on work details or for meals at home. Police escorted prisoners needing medical treatment to the Majuro Hospital where they received free treatment.
Administration: Although authorities permitted inmates to submit complaints about their treatment without censorship and investigated credible allegations of inhumane conditions, there were no complaints of physical abuse filed during the year. On-duty guards often left their posts during the lunch hour.
Independent Monitoring: The government permits prison visits by independent human rights observers, but there were no requests for such visits during the year.
The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally observed these requirements.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The National Police, local police forces, and the Sea Patrol (maritime police) maintain internal security. The National Police and Sea Patrol report to the Ministry of Justice. Local police forces report to their respective local government councils, not to the Ministry of Justice. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces, and the government has mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Under the constitution, a warrant issued by a court is required for an arrest if there is adequate time to obtain one. The courts interpret this requirement to exempt situations such as a breach of the peace or a felony in progress. The law provides detainees the right to a prompt judicial determination of the legality of their detention. Authorities generally respected this right and informed detainees promptly of the charges against them.
There was a functioning system of bail, and detainees may request bond immediately upon arrest for minor offenses. The constitution requires bail be set at a reasonable rate. Most serious offenses require the detainee to remain in jail until authorities can arrange a hearing, normally the morning after arrest. Detainees were allowed access to a lawyer of their choice and, if indigent, to one provided by the state. There were no known cases of incommunicado detention.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.
The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.
The majority of trials are bench trials, in which only a judge hears the case; however, if the penalty for the alleged offense is three or more years in prison, defendants may select either a bench trial or a four-member jury trial. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to counsel. The government provides an attorney at public expense for indigent defendants facing criminal charges. By law authorities must inform defendants promptly and in detail of the charges against them, with free interpretation between English and Marshallese as necessary. Defendants also have the right to a fair trial without undue delay and with adequate time to prepare a defense. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial and may question witnesses. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal. These rights apply equally to all defendants.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
There is no separate judiciary in civil matters. There are administrative remedies for alleged wrongs, including human rights abuses, as well as judicial remedies within the general court system.
The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.