PALAU PROHIBITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Aug. 9) – President Tommy Remengesau signed into law the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act.

RPPL 7-8 aims to protect the Pacific from acts of terrorism and from terrorists who make or store or prepare chemicals to use as weapons.

The Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act specifies severe criminal penalties for improper use, production, stockpiling, import or export of various chemicals which may be used to create weapons.

Chemical use for industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical and other peaceful purposes are not prohibited by the new law.

"The safety of the people of Palau and protection of the environment of Palau are the main purpose of the law, which is also necessary to implement Palau’s obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction," according to a statement from the president’s office.

Under the new law, the maximum punishment for an offense involving chemical weapons is life imprisonment and a fine is $1 million.

The law bans the import and export of specific chemicals without the consent of the justice minister and imposes a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Under the law, international authorities and Palau’s law enforcement officers are allowed to conduct inspections for chemical weapons in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, and related agreements.

The law stated that obstruction of the work of international inspectors or breach of confidentiality relating to inspections are also criminal offenses, carrying a maximum penalty of $20,000 fine and a six-month jail term.

The minister of state will be responsible for designating a chemical weapons convention officer while the attorney general is designated as the legal expert for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

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