In Nauru, sexual offences are found in the Crimes Act 2016.

From 2009, Nauru embarked on a wholesale review of its 1899 Criminal Code, with the aim of simplifying, modernising and strengthening criminal offences. The reforms entailed a comprehensive overhaul of Nauru’s criminal law, including its sexual offences laws, resulting in the enactment of the Crimes Act 2016.

Most of the provisions of the Crimes Act assessed in this research meet good practice and human rights standards. For example, consensual same-sex sexual activity is not criminalised, all sexual assaults are criminalised, the law is explicit that corroboration is not required and that marital rape is a crime, consent is defined as the free and voluntary agreement to sexual activity and sexual assault crimes are gender-neutral. Consensual sexual activity with persons with disability is not a crime and the legislation does not use discriminatory or derogatory language to describe a person with disability. There are close-in-age defences, which are necessary to protect young people from criminalisation when they engage in consensual sexual activity with their peers where one or both people are under the age of consent.

However, there are insufficient safeguards in the legislation to protect a complainant’s privacy and other rights when a court allows evidence of their prior sexual activity.

Nauru is a state party to relevant international and regional human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Read more about the reform of Nauru’s Criminal Code.

The full assessment of Nauru is available here.

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Since 2015, the Trust's legislative reform programme has been analysing the need for the reform of sexual offence laws and delivering technical assistance to support such reform. Find out more about our Changing Laws, Changing Lives programme.

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