Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia Mourns the loss of one of its Founding Fathers: Chief Justice Andon Amaraich

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): January 28, 2010 - On January 26, 2010, at 9:00 am Honolulu time, the FSM Supreme Court's sitting Chief Justice, the Honorable Andon L. Amaraich, passed away at Straub Hospital in Hawai'i. The Chief Justice had been suffering from pneumonia and other complications in Pohnpei and was referred to Hawai'i on January 15, 2010. He was 77 years old.

Chief Justice Amaraich is one of the founding fathers of the Federated States of Micronesia. He was born on August 24, 1932, on Ta, an island in the Mortlock islands of Chuuk State. He graduated from the Pacific Islands Central School (PICS) and then attended one summer session at the College of Guam. He began his professional career as an elementary school teacher in Chuuk from 1951 to 1952, then he began his long career in public service. He first served in the Truk District Court as the Assistant Clerk of Courts (1955-56), and then as the Chief Public Defender for ten years followed by the position of Assistant District Administrator for Public Affairs under the Trust Territory Government.

Amaraich also served in the legislative branch in the Truk District Congress, the Council of Micronesia for the Trust Territory Government in 1959 (representing Chuuk State), and the Congress of Micronesia Senate from 1965 to 1974. In Congress, he was the Chairman on the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Starting in 1962, he served as the Micronesian Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the Trusteeship Council and continued in this capacity a total of three times. Considered as one of his greatest accomplishments, he served as chairman of the Commission on the Future Political Status and Transition from 1976 to 1987, which led to his appointment as the chief negotiator on the Compact of Free Association with the United States Government. Later, he was a special consultant to the Micronesian Delegation to the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference and also served as a legal staff to the 1975 Micronesian Constitutional Convention where he personally drafted many of the provisions of the FSM Constitution.

In 1979, at the establishment of the FSM Constitutional Government, Amaraich was appointed to be the first Secretary of the FSM Department of External Affairs under President Tosiwo Nakayama. He served for both terms under President Nakayama from 1979 to 1987, and then served in the same capacity under President John Haglelgam until 1990. During these years he played an instrumental role in developing diplomatic relationships with other nations in the Pacific and the world, established missions in Tokyo, Fiji (Suva), Washington D.C., Guam and Honolulu, and almost single-handedly organized the Department of External Affairs.

In 1990, President Haglelgam nominated Secretary Amaraich as an Associate Justice for the FSM Supreme Court based on his "significant legal training and court experience", combined with his lead role in negotiation of the Compact, a very complex legal document, to satisfy the statutory requirement regarding qualification of a Supreme Court Judge. He served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the FSM from June 1992 to 1994.

In 1993, President Bailey Olter nominated Amaraich as Chief Justice of the FSM Supreme Court. He was, at the time, serving as the Acting Chief Justice following the resignation of Chief Justice Edward C. King. President Olter wrote in his nomination transmittal letter to Congress that, "(Amaraich's) career of public service is without equal. His qualifications for the office of the Chief Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia are truly beyond question." He further said that, "I have every reason to believe that Andon Amaraich will not be simply a competent Chief Justice. I hold great hope that he will be a great Chief Justice." During the Second Special Session of the 8th FSM Congress in 1994, Amaraich was confirmed as Chief Justice of the FSM Supreme Court and for the first time in the history of the nation, all branches of the FSM National Government were entrusted to a citizen of the FSM.

In addition to the many government positions he held during his years before becoming Chief Justice, Amaraich was also very active in serving on Boards and in Corporations. He was the chairman of the Micronesian Maritime Authority in 1990, Vice Chairman and later Chairman of the National Fisheries Corporation, President of the Board of Trustees for Ponape Agriculture and Trade School (PATS), and a member of the Board for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation.

During the Trust Territory Administration, Amaraich began participating in numerous legal trainings and seminars. He has attended many judicial conferences throughout the Pacific and Asia. As Chief Justice, Amaraich was an active member of the Pacific Judicial Council, which is comprised of all insular jurisdictions including the American Samoa Judiciary, the CNMI Judiciary, the Palau Judiciary, the Guam Judiciary, the U.S. District Court of Guam, and all four FSM State Judiciaries. He was also the Vice Chairman of the Pacific Judicial Development Program Executive Board comprised of the judiciaries of all the fourteen (14) Pacific Island Countries from the Cook Islands in the east, to the Republic of Palau in the west.

The Chief Justice married former Pwerech Smail of Nama, Mortlocks, Chuuk and they have 11 children.

A State Funeral is being planned, the details of which will be announced once they are set.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356