YNN Vol. 7 Issue 2 (Feb. 11, 2005)

The Yap Networker

(Colonia, Yap) - The FSM Dept. of Justice and the counsel for the two detained Myanmar citizens have agreed to a temporary restricted release arrangement. Under this arrangement, the individuals are no longer being detained at the State Prison. Mr. Vincent Figir, previous Governor of Yap State, has agreed to have them released into his care and custody and the activities of the individuals will continued to be monitored by the Dept. of Justice. According to information provided by the Dept. of Justice, "the individuals do not have any legal status in the FSM until a resolution of the matter."

The two male, both in their early-twenties, arrived on January 16, 2005 at the Yap International Airport and were detained by the FSM Immigration due to problems with their travel documents. They had intentionally tore up their passports onboard the flight and had trashed them onboard. The individuals have asked the Government of the FSM for asylum. According to the Dept. of Justice, the individuals allege that they are in fear of persecution by the Government of Myanmar.

At the present time, the FSM does not have any law or policies with regard to addressing such a claim. The Dept. of Justice informed YNN that the FSM is not a party to the major international treaty on this matter, the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. The Dept. of Justice, working with other government departments, is considering a course of action with respect to these two individuals. As stated by Ms. Janhabi Nandy of the Dept. of Justice, "a timely resolution is a priority for the Dept. of Justice."

The Department has transmitted a letter to the FSM Dept. of External Affairs, dated February 1st 2005, requesting the assistance of External Affairs to contact the United Nations for assistance in this matter.

Currently, three male refugees are still residing on Yap. The three had arrived by boat in October 1998 and also were seeking asylum. In August 2002, administrative deportation proceedings were undertaken by the Dept. of Justice. Those proceedings were foiled when Mr. Jesse Raglmar-SUBOLMAR, whom had served as custodians of the three men, stepped in and stated that he had adopted the three through traditional adoption. An agreement was reached and signed by the Dept. of Justice and the Vietnamese refugees that they may remain on Yap, but are not allowed to travel outside of Yap State, since they did not have any type of valid travel documents.

It has also been reported that two other male individuals claiming to be citizens of Indonesia, in two separate incidents, were rescued at sea in the State of Pohnpei. According to the Dept. of Justice, one had drifted onshore in a raft and the other was picked up by a fishing vessel. They had been working for foreign fishing enterprises at sea and had run short of supplies. According to information provided by the Dept. of Justice, the two are currently living aboard the FSM patrol boats. The Justice Department is also working with other departments to return these individuals to their homes with the cooperation of the Indonesian government.