KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety, Feb. 12) – Palau’s Ministry of Justice says it wants to work closely with traditional leaders in solving crimes, particularly those involving the violation of traditional customs.

Speaking before a legislative public hearing, Justice Minister Michael J. Rosenthal said the ministry has worked with traditional leaders in the past, through the Restorative Justice Program, in resolving issues involving Palauan customs and will continue to do so in the future.

"I strongly believe that increased involvement by traditional leaders will benefit the criminal justice process. In 2001, the Ministry of Justice established the Restorative Justice Program. Many traditional leaders have participated in that program, which incorporates some traditional Palauan values into the criminal justice process," said Rosenthal.

In one case, according to Rosenthal, a request was made by a defense counsel who said that instead of using the court system, the matter be sent to the traditional leaders who would then impose the punishment.

"The Ministry of Justice agreed to allow such a resolution, and would be willing to do so in other cases if victims agree," Rosenthal said.

February 12, 2003

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