Restricting Attorney General’s Office


From OTV Posted on February 28, 2012

Senators’ Demand Appointment of Special Prosecutor in the Wake of Presidents’ Executive Order Exerting Its Domination Over the AG’s Office

The news of Palau’s Presidential Executive Order 306 banning the Attorney General from giving a legal opinion directly to those outside of the Office of the President and his Ministers first set off alarms across the Pacific raising the attention of the Pacific Freedom Forum, Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand. The Executive Order was referred to as a “gag order” – a characterization dismissed by Palau’s President. The Executive Order requires the AG to first consult with the President and the Minister of Justice before issuing any legal opinion. The President’s Office defended the Order claiming that any complaints about the Order were coming from outside of Palau by those unfamiliar with the way things work in Palau. Yet, this same Executive Order now has raised the concern of some of Palau’s leaders.

Certain Palau Senators have expressed their concern that the recently issued Executive Order removes any pretense that the AG’s office is independent of the Office of the President. Because of this some Senators argue that the appointment of a Special Prosecutor is even more critical since no longer can the prosecution of public officials for abusing their position be investigated with independence.

In fact, on the heels of this Executive Order, the AG’s Office announced that it is assigning Assistant Attorney General Brentley Foster the task of reviewing all of the investigative files and prosecutions formerly handled by the dissolved Special Prosecutors’ Office. Some fear that with the new Executive Order in place all of the highly sensitive and protected documents about Palau’s former and current leaders will be in the hands of the Office of the President since the report and recommendation regarding those cases will be shared with the President.

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