By: L.N. Reklai

May 2, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Court denies Koror State Government’s request for preliminary injunction against the House of Traditional Leaders for imposing “bul” on the Jellyfish Lake.

Koror State Government’s request to convert the Temporary Restraining Order to preliminary injunction, which would stop Koror House of Traditional Leaders from imposing a moratorium on Jelly Fish Lake until the case has been resolved by the court, was denied by the court on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.


Request seeks to keep defendants (HOTL) from restricting public access to Jellyfish Lake by use of the traditional moratorium “bul” or interfering with anyone who wishes to go to the Lake.

Furthermore, it seeks to prohibit HOTL from requiring Governor Adachi to apologize or to withdraw Koror State Government’s public notices that Jellyfish Lake remains open.

Emphasizing that the hearing was not to decide the traditional authority of the House of Traditional Leaders, the Court stated it only had to decide whether it was necessary to maintain the status quo until the adjudication of the Koror State Government’s claims.

On the injunction to prohibit HOTL from requiring Governor Adachi to apologize and withdraw his public notices, the court deems the request too broad. The terms are too broad and cover many “perfectly lawful acts” including freedom of expression according to the court’s order.

Regarding KSG’s motion to prohibit HOTL from restricting access to the Jellyfish Lake, stating that neither the State nor the national government had given the HOTL the authority to declare BUL and impose punishment for violation, the court states that this raised a lot of questions such as “what legal effect, if any, does BUL declared by HOTL have absent further ratification by the state or national government? Or what sanctions if any, may lawfully be imposed as punishment for violating the BUL?”.

According to the court, the question “is not whether the actions are authorized by law but where those actions are prohibited by law”. If the answer to this question is no, the court states, it is then irrelevant whether HOTL is authorize or not to declare and enforce BUL.

No law or constitutional provision has been violated by HOTL, no sufficient evidence has been given to undermine the traditional authority of HOTL to declare BUL and no evidence that enforcement efforts of HOTL will include unlawful acts has been made known, states the court.

On public harm, court also states that the existing laws imposing civil and criminal liability are sufficient to deter any illegal actions.  The threatened harm is primarily financial and the court finds no reason to grant the relief.

The court in denying the preliminary injunction also lifted the restraining order issued on April 25, 2017 prohibiting Koror State House of Traditional Leaders from imposing BUL on the Jellyfish Lake. [/restrict]