Accessibility Guidelines LAUNCHED: Accessing Information Has Just Reached A Higher Percent.

VANUATU HAS REACHED another milestone as the Vanuatu Government pushes for more inclusiveness in the sharing and access of public information. Today, the 27th of September, the Vanuatu Right To Information (RTI) Accessibility Guidelines was launched by the Governments Chief Information Officer, Mr. Gerard Metsan, on behalf of the government.

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Information provided by the Governments Right To Information (RTI) Unit states that;

The RTI Vanuatu Accessibility Project is a short term project to develop web accessibility guidelines for use by Government agencies in collaboration with the Office of Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). The project has also tested use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to make scanned documents accessible for people with disability.

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The project aims to ensure that the Government Right to Information and Universal Access policies
encompass all peoples of Vanuatu, regardless of ability. The project will assist the Government to achieve its target of 98% population access to broad and narrow access by January 2018.

The project has been undertaken with participation by the Vanuatu Civil Society Disability Network (VCSDN) and Oxfam in Vanuatu. The purpose of the VCSDN is to provide a forum for civil society organisations working towards disability inclusion to share ideas and strategies m learn together, support each other and reduce duplication of effort.

Funding for the project was provided by the Australian Government through the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) Disability Initiative Grants, administered by Scope Global.

This means that people that live with disability will have their right to access information made physically possible with the help of technological tools. This is a huge step for Vanuatu, and it leaps Vanuatu forward from other island nations in this respect.

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Transparency International Vanuatu has spent the last year promoting the Right To Information, and consulting with communities, and gathering opinions on the Right To Information Bill which had been listed twice for debate in Parliament but had unfortunately been withdrawn for various reasons. This RTI Campaign Tours was made possible through financial assistance provided by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP).

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The Right To Information is seen as a key ingredient for good governance because it strengthens accountability and ensures that transparency exists across all public sectors. And now with the launch of the RTI Accessibility Guidelines the percentage of the population that can access information has just increased to a higher percent.

 

 

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Efate Round Island Community Consultation

TO MARK THE International Right To Know Day, Transparency International Vanuatu and its partners will be conducting the Right To Information (RTI) Bill awareness/consultation around the island of Efate.

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This RTI campaign tours are funded by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) who supports Transparency International Vanuatu’s work with the Government’s Right to Information (RTI) Unit to raise awareness and promote public interest in the RTI Policy and Bill. PLP’s support has enabled TIV to campaign in communities and schools and host public forums on the RTI Policy and Bill, using its strong networks in the provinces.

This process has built the public’s knowledge and understanding of the principles of good leadership and the importance of government transparency and given the RTI Unit insights into how the Policy can be effectively implemented.

The Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) is a regional initiative of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that recognises the pivotal role of leadership in development. PLP builds, applies and shares knowledge on developmental leadership (i.e. individuals, organisations and other stakeholders working together on inclusive policy and institutional change for the public good).

TIV To Conduct A Week Of RTI Awareness On Ambrym

OFFICERS FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU will be visiting the island of Ambrym from the 18th to the 23rd of this month, September, to continue with the Right To Information (RTI) Bill Community Awareness Program.

The RTI bill is a new initiative being undertaken to allow citizens to have an easier to accessing information that they need from public offices. The RTI policy was launched in 2013 and it commits the government to release information to the public. Currently, the RTI Bill is ready to be discussed in parliament.

In brief, 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 that can be legally utilized to reduce corruption in Vanuatu.

The team will begin the awareness campaign at Ulei at the south eastern part of the island and will finish next week on Friday at Craigcove before they return to Port Vila. This campaign to the island of Ambrym would be the eight of its kind to be conducted by Transparency International Vanuatu in Vanuatu.

According to the Vanuatu National Statistics Office, in 2009 the island of Ambrym has a population of just over seven thousand people. These means that if the campaign team visits several villages and manages to talk with roughly a thousand people then that would mean that about fifteen percent of the population would be aware of the RTI by the end of next week.

And given our love for ‘storian’ the RTI message should reach over half of the people that live on the island by a month or so. Our main goals at Transparency International Vanuatu are to share information on the reasons why we need to have a Right To Information law, and secondly to gather people’s opinion and to present it to the public, and to the lawmakers as supportive and actual information so that they can make the right decision when the time comes.

Information is power – but 20 to 30 years ago, such power was focused only in the hands of an exclusive few.

With grassroots campaigns and high-level advocacy, the Transparency International Secretariat (based in Berlin, Germany) has called on leaders around the world to prove they have got nothing to hide. Today, freedom of information is enshrined in the legal codes of more than 100 countries.

In countries where the right to information is already a law the Transparency International Secretariat (TIS) is working to find new and better ways to make it useful. With innovative tools and training’s, TIS is helping turn government information into citizen power.

Transparency International Vanuatu wants to ensure this trend continues in Vanuatu.

While the officers are on Ambrym community leaders who wish to have the RTI awareness conducted in their community can conduct Transparency International Vanuatu (Tel: 25715) to identify their locations so that the team can visit them to share information on the contents of the Right To Information Bill.

This RTI campaign tours are funded by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) who supports Transparency International Vanuatu’s work with the Government’s Right to Information (RTI) Unit to raise awareness and promote public interest in the RTI Policy and Bill. PLP’s support has enabled TIV to campaign in communities and schools and host public forums on the RTI Policy and Bill, using its strong networks in the provinces.

This process has built the public’s knowledge and understanding of the principles of good leadership and the importance of government transparency and given the RTI Unit insights into how the Policy can be effectively implemented.

The Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) is a regional initiative of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that recognises the pivotal role of leadership in development. PLP builds, applies and shares knowledge on developmental leadership (i.e. individuals, organisations and other stakeholders working together on inclusive policy and institutional change for the public good).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Administrative Corruption

Questions have been raised on what is the meaning of Administrative Corruption?

Firstly, defining administrative corruption is not a modest task. However, there is agreement about the idea that corruption crosses legal systems, history, and cultures.

Here we provide an explanation on its definition;

Imagine this scenario; a village needs to have a water system in their village to supplement them during the long dry seasons, they have always relied on water tanks, which are, unreliable when dry weather lasts for more than 2 months.

They draw up a request and approach the Provincial Water Officer who assists them to look for fund support.

It is not long before they receive news that their application is successful. The fund for the first stage of the project arrives and the villagers begin clearing up the site for the water system. After they have finished clearing the site they send back a report to the authority concern and wait for the stage two funds.

But the days turn to weeks, then the weeks to months and yet no funding has arrived. Natural vegetation slowly claims back the cleared location of the project until it looks as if the land had never been cleared at all.

And as the years go by nothing has arrived. Gradually, the promises become myths, trusting a leader becomes an issue and participatory voting has decreased.

Coincidently, the shortage of clean drinking water throughout the dry seasons is getting worse, water borne diseases are a constant threat and more and more of the community’s young people are moving to Luganville and Port Vila for employment opportunities and better services.

But for the Provincial Water Officer, his life has been luxurious. He bought a truck and owns several shops, he gained political favor and moved higher on the salary chain. Eventually he becomes the overall supervisor of the country’s Rural Water Department and slowly, one by one, community water projects began to fail across the country while he grew wealthier. He has pocketed water funds as his own and used it towards his own interests.

This is Administrative Corruption. It is the abuse of power for private gain.

The widespread interest at the international and national level in fighting administrative corruption is severely connected with the idea that it produces many negative effects, falsifies and deteriorates public institutions.

Transparency International Vanuatu is against corruption in all its forms. During an anti – corruption workshop that was held recently in Port Vila ‘Administrative Corruption’ was identified as one of the most serious type of corrupt activity that had to be dealt with.

The administrative level is an area where corrupt behavior can be costly. Hundreds of millions of vatu can be diverted to a private account with just a signature, and development projects can be diverted simply because of favorism or by the wantok system, or because someone or a group of people within the administration see their personal benefits in this diversion.

Over the years Vanuatu has witnessed failed projects, broken promises and reports of alleged favorism in the management of projects.

Vanuatu is not alone in this activity, investigations and publications by Transparency International have revealed that administrative corruption is universal.

So can you fight against administrative corruption?  YES!   How?

The Encyclopedia of Law and Economics explains that “preventing corruption needs a tool – box: good quality regulation, also when regulation determines sanctions; controls, which should be sustainable and informed t deterrence and planning’ administrative reforms, in order to reduce monopoly and discretionary powers, to strengthen the Civil Service and to ensure transparency and information”.

Additionally, during the Civil Society Anti-Corruption Workshop, held in Port Vila in May of this year, organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Code of Ethics for Administrative Officers is one of the most effective tools that can be utilized to discourage administrative corruption.

The Code of Ethics is a set of rules or understandings that differentiates what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in the workplace, and it is the responsibility of the workers to apply this understandings in their decisions.

There are other ways that individuals can use to fight corruption especially in the administrative sector of their workplace, in late 2015 an individual put out a complaint on a senior provincial government who worked in the administration sector for selling, for personal profit, TC Pam relief supplies. These are courageous individuals unusually knowns as ‘whistleblowers’, they are people who have morally decided to expose the unjust and corrupt practices at their places of work. Anyone can become a whistleblower, it needs courage and bravery, and the vision for the greater good.

There has been instances where workers in the administration sector were convicted for corruption. For instance, during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan in the United States (1981-1989) over 138 administration officials over 139 administration officials were convicted of corruption.

More examples; in Iraq several judges were convicted with administration corruption in 2013. In Fiji a Senior Hydrologist of the Public Works Department was convicted of official corruption, which is similar to administrative corruption, he took benefits from employees so that he could show them favor in his decisions later. The judge who presided over the cases described administrative corruption as “a cancer to the society”.

Overall, administration corruption is considered as a serious form of corruption because it is the selfish act of using public power for personal benefit. Fortunately, this corrupt act can be challenged by through legal means and by ordinary people from all walks of life.

Transparency International Vanuatu is committed to educating the Vanuatu society on the different forms of corruption that exists in Vanuatu and how society can fight back.

For any information regarding our work and our awareness programs on corruption please contacts us Tel: 25715 or email us at transparency@vanuatu.com.vu, we are also on facebook.


Sources;

  1. http://www.paclii.org/cgi-bin/sinodisp/fj/cases/FJHC/2010/354.html?stem=&synonyms=&query=corruption
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan_administration_scandals
  3. https://tivnews.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/the-important-role-of-whistleblowers/
  4. http://onlykashmir.in/corruption-syndrome-jk-govt-to-terminate-51-top-officials/