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What is the OSP?

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) is an independent office in the Republic of Palau tasked with receiving complaints, investigating, and prosecuting any and all allegations of violations of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Palau.

The OSP operates under the Special Prosecutors Act, a law of the National Government of the Republic of Palau that is currently codified at Title 2 of the Palau National Code, Chapter Five (cited as 2 PNC § § 501-507).  The OSP is led by the Special Prosecutor, who acts as both the chief litigant and manager of the OSP, directing the activities of assistant prosecuting attorneys, criminal investigators, and administrative staff.

Under the Special Prosecutors Act, the Special Prosecutor is nominated by the President of the Republic, and confirmed by the Senate of the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK), also known as the Palau National Congress.  Once confirmed, the Special Prosecutor leads the OSP for a term of five years, subject only to removal by the President for cause followed by notice to the OEK.

The OSP, under this framework, conducts its investigations and prosecutions independently from the other portions of the Executive Branch.  In this way, the OSP is distinguished from Office of the Attorney General, which conducts the majority of criminal prosecutions in the Republic and exists within the Ministry of Justice.

The OSP is also tasked by statute to serve as the prosecution where there is a conflict of interest prohibiting the Office of the Attorney General from acting as the prosecutorial office.

How does the OSP function?

As an independent office, the OSP primarily focuses on allegations of corruption and other forms of government-oriented misconduct.  However, the Special Prosecutors Act authorizes the investigation into and prosecution of any violations of the laws and Constitution of the Republic of Palau.  This breadth allows the OSP to engage with other stakeholders in Palau to promote effective prosecution of other crimes, most frequently those involving economic frauds or other illicit financial conduct, such as money laundering or significant larceny.

Although the OSP is an office of the National Government of the Republic of Palau, the OSP aggressively investigates and prosecutes misconduct related to any branch of government, any ministry, board, authority, or agency of the National Government, as well as any branch, institution, board, authority, or public official or employee of any of the sixteen state governments constituting the Republic of Palau.

The current Special Prosecutor is April Dawn Cripps, who was confirmed by the Senate of Palau on August 3, 2018.  In addition to Special Prosecutor Cripps, the OSP staff includes criminal investigators, assistant prosecutors, and administrative staff so that the OSP may function on its own to independently accomplish all tasks necessary for effective criminal law enforcement: receiving of complaints, investigation into facts and circumstances, filing of criminal charges, litigation of legal issues, presentation of trials in court, and engaging in appeals.

From time to time, the OSP’s role in enforcing the laws of the Republic of Palau includes other legal activities, including civil litigation efforts (at both the trial and appellate levels), asset forfeiture proceedings, internationally-oriented mutual legal assistance, commenting on proposed legislation and/or regulation, public outreach, and other collaborative activities.

In these endeavors, the OSP works closely with a number of interested stakeholders including the Office of the Public Auditor, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Ethics Commission, and other law enforcement agencies of Palau, primarily in the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance.

The OSP is dedicated to the promotion of the rule of law and good governance through the effective imposition of justice for abuses of governmental authority; waste, fraud, and abuse of public funds; serious profit-motivated economic crimes and frauds; and, any and all other illegal or unconstitutional acts that detract from the public well-being of Palau. Also see the OSP Policy for Relations with the Public.