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Alii and Welcome!

A Message from the Office of the Special Prosecutor

Hello and welcome to the website for the Office of the Special Prosecutor. This message is provided to explain the mechanisms by which complaints are received, investigated, prosecuted, and closed. The OSP considers as-pirational standards for the prosecution function published by the American Bar Association (ABA) when de-ciding how to proceed. Under 2 PNC § 503, the Special Prosecutor is authorized to: (1) receive complaints of, investigate, and prosecute any and all allegations of violations of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Palau; and (2) investigate and act as the prosecutor for the national government in any other case in which the Ministry of Justice or the Office of the Attorney General is unable to investigate or prosecute because of an ac-tual or potential conflict of interest or other ethical considerations.

Complaints are received by our office through email, mail, in-person contact, and our website. In addition, while investigating or reviewing complaints, it is not unusual to stumble across new complaints. Each complaint is as-signed a complaint number for tracking and accountability regardless of the method by which it is received. Complaints are generally kept confidential until filed upon.

After a complaint is received, it is assigned to one of the OSP investigators to investigate and make a recom-mendation to the SP regarding its disposition. Throughout the investigation, the investigators and prosecutors are in constant communication. Often, other agencies are consulted during the investigatory process. Once the matter is submitted to the SP with a recommendation of disposition, the SP or Assistant SP reviews the entire complaint and investigation and either seeks additional information, approves closure of the complaint as un-founded or for lack of evidence, or proceeds to case prosecution. If the complaint is closed and there is a known victim or complainant, they will receive a letter explaining the closure of the matter. If additional information is received that makes the original complaint viable, the closure may be revisited provided the statute of limitations has not expired.

After review, prosecution may take several different avenues. This is where the aspirational standards for the prosecution function promoted by the ABA come into consideration. The standards that most affect how the SP resolves cases include the following:

Standard 3-1.2(b), which states “(t)he primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict. The prosecutor serves the public interest and should act with integrity and balanced judgment to increase public safety both by pursuing appropriate criminal charges of appropriate severity, and by exercising discretion to not pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances. The prosecutor should seek to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, consider the interests of victims and witnesses, and respect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants.”

Standard 3-1.2(e), which states “(t)he prosecutor should be knowledgeable about, consider, and where appropriate develop or assist in developing alternatives to prosecution or conviction that may be applicable in individual cases or classes of cases. The prosecutor’s office should be available to assist community efforts addressing problems that lead to, or result from, criminal activity or perceived flaws in the criminal justice system.”

Standard 3-1.2(f), which begins “(t)he prosecutor is not merely a case-processor but also a problem-solver responsible for considering broad goals of the criminal justice system….”

Prosecution is not just about resolving complaints or prosecuting crimes but includes community education and public awareness, transparency and trust in government, and prevention of future criminal activity. It also in-cludes, where possible, making the victim whole and giving voice to those who might otherwise not be heard, regardless of ethnicity or gender.

For the above reasons, deferred prosecution and plea offers are made to resolve cases. If there is a victim, the victim will be consulted before the case is resolved. Once filed, if the parties cannot agree upon a resolution of the case, the case is tried in court. Generally speaking, this can be but often is not a quick process. Continuances to try to resolve the case, prepare the case for trial, or to litigate various points of law before the case is actually tried often occurs, which brings about necessary delays for the parties and the courts. However, the cases that need to be tried will be tried and decided by the courts.

It is our goal to resolve all complaints received by the OSP in consideration of the above standards with integri-ty, fairness, transparency, and justice for the Republic of Palau.

Kom kmal mesulang!

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Palauan Precepts

A precept is a general rule that helps you to decide how you should behave in particular circumstances.

In this section, the Office of the Special Prosecutor will place questions and answers from its public outreach programs and present points of law and legal concepts as interpreted by the Palau Supreme Court relevant to the work of the OSP. .

This is not meant to provide legal advice but to make it easier to find relevant law and understand how the OSP applies the law to its work. If you need specific legal advice, please consult an attorney.

A campaign contribution is not limited to money. If a foreign national, “any individual who is not a citizen of the Republic of Palau, or a business entity, any of the ownership interest of which is held, directly or indirectly, by an individual who is not a citizen of the Republic of Palau,” makes a contribution of anything to a state or national election candidate’s campaign, the OSP would view the contribution as unlawful under the Code of Ethics, 33 PNCA § 607(a).Friendship between a candidate and foreign national would not preclude the application of the Code of Ethics.  See Code of Ethics 33 PNCA § 601(j).

Under the Code of Ethics, 33 PNCA§ 607(a), the OSP would view the contribution as unlawful. It does not matter whether the campaign contribution coming from a foreign national is made directly to the candidate or indirectly through a third party (in this case through the foreign national’s adopted daughter). If a contribution originates from a foreign national with the intent to give it to a candidate’s campaign, the candidate cannot accept or receive it.

A candidate for any national or state elective office, may not “solicit, accept, or receive” any contribution in connection with the election, whether the contribution was made directly to the candidate or through a third party.  To accept such a contribution would be a violation of the Code of Ethics be a misdemeanor punishable and prosecutable by the Attorney General or the Special Prosecutor. See the Code of Ethics found under Title 33, Chapter 6, for the complete list of campaign laws.

White-collar crime (also referred to as “corporate crime), as it relates to government officials, generally are those crimes considered to be financially or economically driven non-violent crimes.  Corporate or government officials usually have better access to finances in the corporation or government that would allow for abuses under this category.

“White collar” in the U.S. historically referred to non-manual workers wearing suits, white shirts, and ties, as opposed to “blue collar” referring to manual labor workers who wore blue shirts.  White-collar crimes may include fraud, extortion, embezzlement, money laundering, cybercrime, wage theft, and forgery.

Corruption is “(t)he act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others.” U. S. v. Johnson (C. C.) 20 Fed. 082; State v. Ragsdale. 59 Mo. App. 003; Wight v. Rindskopf, 43 Wis. 351; Worsham v. Murchison, 00 Ga. 719; U. S. v. Edwards (C. C.) 43 Fed. 07. – See https://thelawdictionary.org/corruption/.

Corruption, as identified and discussed during the OSP public outreach campaign, may take various forms including bribery, theft, fraud, extortion, misuse of government funds, misuse of government property, etc.

Review All Palauan Precepts