Traffic snarled in Pohnpei as hundreds gather at Pohnpei Public Market on “deadline day” for legal actions on alleged squatters

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

August 31, 2018

Pohnpei—Two weeks ago, Pohnpei’s Attorney General Dana Smith issued notices for alleged trespassers on Pohnpei state lands at the Public Market site in Kolonia and on property located near PICS High School to vacate or face legal action.

That legal action didn’t come in the way that some expected it would come. The expectation of a forced removal of so called “squatters” at the Public Market had never been planned. Just the same, protestors gathered en masse, ready for a confrontation that was never intended and was never planned.

Quietly, the Attorney General filed civil actions at the Pohnpei Supreme Court against more than 200 alleged squatters at both sites as he had promised to do in his public notice and direct service methods. Those notices never said that the alleged trespassers would be physically removed on August 31, only that those who are occupying the properties in question should be out on or before August 31.

One of the civil actions alleges that a parking structure may have been built within the boundaries of a road easement and also on two lots of the public market land. Another has to do with people who have established living quarters on that land. One last civil action is against the actions of people who have allegedly occupied buildings that were intended for ex-patriate employees of the Pohnpei State Government. The Government has not been able to use the properties for their intended purpose because they were occupied by other people who allegedly had no permission to be there. Meanwhile, the government has been paying rent for those employees while the people who occupied the housing, allegedly without permission have been paying nothing for the use of the properties.

The civil actions filed this morning have asked the court to issue an order directing all of the many defendants, their family members and agents to vacate the parcels of land in question and to remove their personal possessions and property from the premises. Pending litigation of the case, the civil actions ask the court to issue a Writ of Possession directing the Director of the Department of Public Safety or a responsible official of the State to remove Defendants from possession of the properties. They ask the court to enjoin (stop) the defendants from further committing acts that keep the State from entering the named parcels of land and renovating the structures for use by the Pohnpei government. They also ask for the court to order the defendants to pay reasonable rent as damages for the time they wrongfully used the land and also to pay for “special injury” to the parcels of land and improvements found there.

The civil actions were only filed this morning and the court will require that defendants be given opportunity to respond before anything is done. The decision on what to do next will be in the hands of the Pohnpei Supreme Court.