Lawmakers are seeking measures to grant special passports to ‘stateless’ individuals residing in Palau that are adopted by Palauan citizens.

Senate bill no. 10-156, which was introduced by Senators Hokkons Baules, Frank Kyota, Mark Rudimch, Stevenson Kuartei, and John Skebong, stated in its legislative findings that there are a “small class” of individuals residing in Palau that do not have proper documentation to be able to take international travels.

“Our national leaders have been grappling with providing a solution for these stateless persons for over a decade,” the bill stated.

The bill stated that this group of residents should be given the chance to travel internationallyby issuing them special passports.

“The Olbiil Era Kelulau (Palau’s national congress) believes that our Palauan values are essential for the strength of our society, and we believe in being warm, kind, and welcoming to those who live in, contribute to, and are important parts of our families,” the bill read.

The proposed legislation, however, emphasized that this move to issue passports to thecertain group of residents does not mean that a Palauan citizenship is being conferred to them, adding that it will merely allow them to travel internationally.

If passed into a law, the proposed special passports will only be issued to individuals who were born to non-Palauan parents that are subsequently adopted by Palauan citizens. Aside from that, it also seeks to issue special passports to individuals who are eligible for Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands passports that are not citizens of any other country and who apply for a Palau passport within the two-year transition period.

“Such special passports must clearly state that the holder of the passport is not a Palauan citizen, but is authorized to remain in the Republic of Palau and enjoy all rights and privileges except those specifically reserved for Palauan citizens,” the bill read.

The special passport, according to the proposed legislation, shall only bear a five-year validity for eligible persons with age below 16 and a 10-year validity for eligible persons who are at least 16 years old.

Under the current law, Palau passports are only issued to Palauan citizens.