TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU will be conducting several public awareness programs on the Right To Information (RTI) on the island of Tanna from 21st to the 28th of February, also participating is the Right To Information Unit who will have an officer join the TIV Team on Tanna Island.
In preparation for this tour a site visit was conducted by two TIV officers in early February to identify potentials communities and venues that could host the public awareness program. The two officers also visited the TAFEA Provincial Headquarters on Tanna to assist in identifying the communities.
The TIV Civic Education Coordinator, Mr. Douglas Tamara, said that according to the site visit TIV will be conducting awareness on several different schools, villages and provincial Institutions on the island of Tanna.
“On the 21st of February we will be visiting Bethel village, then on the 22nd we will be going to the Lenakel Presbyterian College, the Lenakel main Market and also Tafea College as well,” Mr. Tamara said.
Mr. Tamara continued to say that “on the 23rd there will be an RTI forum held at the Provincial Chamber from 9 o’clock in the morning till lunch time where there will be light refreshments available for everyone. And then in the afternoon the team will be visiting Isangel College”.
Mr. Tamara also confirmed that on the 24th – 27th February the team will be visiting the outer communities on the south, south east, north, north east and the central part of Tanna.
The Secretary General for Tafea Province, Mr. Reynold Surmat, including the heads of the colleges to be visited acknowledged Transparency International Vanuatu for the task they will be carrying out in Tanna to widen the knowledge of people about the right to information.
Tafea SG Mr. Reynolds acknowledged the TIV members for visiting them and talking to
them about the importance of RTI awareness and RTI forum which will help people understand and contribute ideas to the drafting of the RTI bill.
The right to information means that any person or organization has a legally recognized right to request and obtain information, subject to limited exceptions, from public and in some instances private bodies performing public functions.
An RTI policy was launched in 2013 and it commits the government to release information to the public. Eventually, an RTI bill is currently being draft and the next step is for that bill to get approval into parliament and to be voted in to become a law of Vanuatu.
The right to information seeks to promote openness, transparency and accountability in
the functioning of every public authority. It supports and protects human rights and makes citizens a part of decision making. And most importantly it is a tool to reduce corruption in Vanuatu.
Individuals have the right to access and correct all personal information held by public and private bodies about themselves.
The right to information is important as it is: the foundation for the development of a nation; a symbol for open society; the key means to achieve good governance; promotes openness, transparency and accountability in the functions of every public authority; reduces corruption; support and protect human rights; make citizens part of decision making; and strengthen the foundation of democracy.
WATCH: Right To Information Awareness on the island of Santo.