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Marshall Islands

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Majuro and Ebeye jail authorities routinely held drunk prisoners naked. Government officials stated they did this so that prisoners could not use their clothing to attempt suicide.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Treatment of prisoners and prison conditions were harsh and at times degrading.

Physical Conditions: No specialized prison facilities existed for juvenile or adult female prisoners at the jail in Majuro. Authorities did not hold women with men in the Majuro jail. Generally, female prisoners in the capital were held under house arrest, which involved taking away their passports and confining them to their homes at night. According to prison guards, in a few isolated incidents, women arrested for driving under the influence were held with male prisoners for 24 to 48 hours, usually over a weekend or local holiday, when it was not possible to process them quickly enough to put them immediately under house arrest.

A chief complaint in the Majuro jail was the lack of adequate ventilation. Prisoners were cramped in small cells with no air conditioning, windows, or fans, while the daily temperature outside was usually above 90 degrees. Prisoners had to supply their own electric fans. Lighting in cells was inadequate; prisoners had to supply their own lamps or other light sources. The facility was unsanitary; the guards reported that there were no janitors, and prisoners were given cleaning products.

The jail in Ebeye on Kwajalein Atoll, attached to the courthouse, is the only detention facility in the country other than the Majuro jail. In 2017 High Court judge Colin Winchester described Ebeye’s jail as “horrible” and “degrading for anyone who must be confined in it.” According to the judge, he observed 10 individuals incarcerated there, and “if there are two or three people there, it is at its humane limit.” National Police officials commented that Ebeye is supposed to send all prisoners to Majuro jail but does not always do so because of the high cost of transportation.

Authorities allowed prisoners to leave facilities periodically on work details or for meals at home. Police escorted prisoners needing medical treatment to the Majuro Hospital where they received free treatment.

Administration: Although authorities permitted inmates to submit complaints about their treatment without censorship and investigated credible allegations of inhumane conditions, there were no complaints of physical abuse filed during the year. On-duty guards often left their posts during the lunch hour.

Independent Monitoring: The government permits prison visits by independent human rights observers, but there were no requests for such visits during the year.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future