Constitutional Provisions

The 1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended) guarantees that: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."S. 4(1), 1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended).The Constitution further declares that: "No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading treatment...."S. 6(3), 1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended).

Every person has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.S. 1(1), 1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended).Reasonable restrictions may, however, be imposed by law on the time, place, or manner of conduct, provided:

(a) the restrictions are necessary to preserve public peace, order, health, or security or the rights or freedoms of others;
(b) there exist no less restrictive means of doing so; and
(c) the restrictions do not penalize conduct on the basis of disagreement with the ideas or beliefs expressed.S. 1(2), 1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended).

The Constitution does not regulate the use of force by the Marshall Islands police.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Marshall Islands Police Department has a Facebook page. There are also a number of atoll or municipal forces.The Republic of the Marshall Islands consists of 34 islands and more than 1,000 atolls. Total land mass covers about 70 square miles with the population of the Marshall Islands estimated at approximately 50,000.

The 2004 Marshall Islands Criminal Procedure Act expressly regulates police use of force. Section 117 provides that:

In all cases where the person arrested refuses to submit or attempts to escape, such degree of force may be used as is necessary to compel submission.

This does not set limits to the use of force as the principle of proportionality requires.

The 2004 Marshall Islands Criminal Code generally lays down the criminal offences of homicide, assault, and battery. Moreover, under the Code:

Every person who, being a public official, shall do any illegal acts under the color of office, or willfully neglect to perform the duties of his offices provided by law, shall be guilty of misconduct in public office....

In accordance with the Compact of Association with the United States, US Armed Forces and their civilian security contractors have the right to police US military "defense" sites on the islands.

Police Oversight

In 2015, the Marshall Islands Nitijela (Parliament) adopted the Human Rights Committee Act, which establishes a Human Rights Committee as a "complaints mechanism for the redress of human rights violations".



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

The Marshall Islands has only recently adhered to the ICCPR and CAT and has not yet appeared before either Committee. The 2020 Universal Periodic Review of the Marshall Islands did not address the issue of police use of force.


There is no regional human rights mechanism with oversight for acts by law enforcement agencies on the Marshall Islands.


1979 Constitution of the Marshall Islands (as amended)

2004 Marshall Islands Criminal Procedure Act

2004 Marshall Islands Criminal Code

2003 Compact of Free Association