Social Media Workshop Up-skills Media In Vanuatu

IN HIS 1997 ADDRESS at the United Nations former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said “knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

As Vanuatu races towards achieving its objective to technologically connect 98% of the country by 2018 the citizens, and especially those that work in mass communication, need to be updated on how to use trending communication tools and applications that everybody else around the world is using.

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From the 22nd to the 24th of November 2016, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) hosted a 3 day Digital and Social Media Workshop for media specialists and journalists around Port Vila at the Vanuatu Institute of Technology.

The workshop was facilitated by David Bathur the co-founder of a consultancy firm is called Simpatico based in Australia. Simpatico is a training and consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations to ‘digitally transform’ themselves.

Focusing on how to deliver accurate information to readers, the workshop revealed to the participant’s internet tools that can be used to identify the background or find out whether a news article or a trending photo is genuine or fake.

The workshop assisted participants to create accounts in the different social media platforms as well how to reach as many people as possible with information.

In an interview with the former head of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in 2014, Mr. Fred Samuel told Transparency International Vanuatu that “information is like power, and with this power comes responsibility, we have to use information for the right purposes.”

Therefore, having the right training’s and professional advice is a key to ensuring that information is shared responsibly.

As more media platforms are introduced to share information with the masses it is the responsibility of those that facilitate that process to be insightful of these media platforms and to be up-skilled to be able to contribute to national development.

 

 

 

 

 

Successfull RTI Campaign 

IT HAD BEEN a successful year-long campaign for Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) since November 2015 in our nation-wide activity of consulting and informing the people of Vanuatu about the Bill for the Right To Information (RTI) Act which is currently listed to be tabled in Parliament this week.

More than a year ago in 2015 the first consultation sessions kick started in the town of Luganville where over five hundred people were informed about the RTI Bill on the first day of the two week consultation program on the island of Santo.

Gradually, over the next several months thousands of people got informed as more islands were covered in this first ever nation-wide community consultation program to be conducted by TIV in partnership with the Vanuatu Government’s Right To Information Unit and funded by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) that is based in Fiji.

The TIV teams that worked in the field had one daily objective; Everywhere. Anywhere. We Must Consult – Every citizen has the right to be informed of the laws of Vanuatu.

With this objective the TIV teams made it their mission to cover at least five or more villages in one day, and they made it a habit of informing anyone they meet about the RTI Bill whether it be on a ship, plane, in a vehicle, or on a boat like they did while traveling around the island of Erromango.

Fortunately, despite the limited time and resources allocated for each community consultation session on each island hundreds of people participated in the consultation sessions.

Throughout the islands people reacted in different ways when they were informed of the Right To Information Bill. Some people got angry for having waited too long for such a Bill, while some pointed out that the Divine Hands of God was shaping the country’s future away from the negative influences that corrupt the country’s system.

And to some, to simply be informed of the Right To Information Bill is in itself a satisfying feeling, like the old man on the island of Ambae who declared, with tears running down his face, that “Vanuatu will be free at last” because people will have the legal right to access information.

In every village and in every island that took part in the RTI Bill consultations not a single citizen opposed the Bill. Every citizen that was informed declared their support for the RTI Bill and said that their Members of Parliament should do the same because that is what they, the people, have decided.

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51% Of Erromango People Support RTI Bill

A TEAM FROM Transparency International Vanuatu recently visited and traveled around 2the island of Erromango to consult with the people and to gather their opinions on the Bill for the Right To Information Act which has been listed to be tabled next week during the 2nd Extraordinary Session of Parliament.

The team spoke to over 990 people and informed them on the contents of the Bill as well as how the Bill will impact their lives when it becomes law. A lot of questions were asked on the island about the Right To Information (RTI) Bill and the consultation team responded to their queries thoroughly.

1The community consultations on the island of Erromango were conducted from the 2nd to the 8th of November, and approximately fifty one percent (51%) of the population on the island were informed of the RTI Bill (Erromango Pop: 1,950 – According to 2009 National Census). The other forty nine percent (49%) of the population the team could not reach them due to their work commitments and timely constraints.

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At the end of each consultation sessions each community what they would want their Member of Parliament (MP) to do when the RTI Bill was tabled in Parliament and a hundred percent (100%) of them agreed that their MP must vote in favor of the RTI Bill because that is what they want.

4The response is similar in all the islands that Transparency International Vanuatu has visited to conduct the RTI Bill community consultations; islands like Vanualava, Malekula, Santo, Ambrym, Pentecost, Ambae, Tanna, Efate Offshore Islands, and several more.

The ongoing RTI Bill community consultations 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.

Erromango’s Young Settlers – Living The National Anthem

DESPITE BEING THE FOURTH LARGEST in Vanuatu the island of Erromango, in the Province of TAFEA, has a rather small population. Famous for its sandalwood lengthy, hectares of land on the island are inhabited and untouched by man. But this will be changing as Erromango’s new settlers begin colonizing the islands underpopulated regions.

During the past week a team from Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) was on Erromango conducting consultations on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill.

It was during a Civic Education awareness session, which usually accompanies the RTI Bill consultations, that the team came across the inspiring story of young man named Roki who had taken the ultimate decision to move out of his home and start a new village on a remote part of the island.

For those of you who do not know, the Civic Education sessions promote citizenry activism, like what a former US President said; “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you for your country”. The sessions underline the fundamental rights and duties expressed in Vanuatu’s National Constitution, and explains the lyrical meanings of the National Anthem.

Roki left home voluntarily, taking with him nothing more but just four clothes, “I will 3return when all of this four clothes are worn out” he told his family.

It took a timely boat ride to reach Roki, Officers from Transparency International Vanuatu made time to meet him after having been persuaded by fascinating stories told of him.

His one-man village is several hundred meters away from a deep bay called Punusia near North Erromango, the boat had to be literally carried a few meters over a stretch of black smooth stones to harbor on a quiet river before the journey began further uphill by foot.

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The rows of manioc plants lined up along the banks of the river showed human presence in the isolated area, and recently planted pineapple plants occupied a clearing next to rows of tomato plants. Passing through the forests the TIV team, and a few villagers from Potnarvin and Dillon’s Bay, came upon rows of peanut plants silhouetted by high-rise corn plants that bend a little due to the added weight of the mature corn kernels that were attached to them.

In the middle of the corn field a house loomed, and smoke from a fire rose at the edge of the corn field ahead and the smell of heat-cooked meat filled the air. “Bumro” (goodnight) greeted Roki in the Erromang language when the group finally met up with him outside his kitchen, he shook hands with a wide smile, happy to see fellow humans at his remote setting.

“When I first came here I slept on the black stones by the sea, I then moved here and made home underneath that Burao tree with my dogs” he pointed with his torch when the team finally had time to sit down for a chat.

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“When I woke up in the morning I was ready to start a village after my first night here. I threw fear faraway, no more fear, I am on my own” said Roki. “When I sleep I can hear wild cattle mooing, wild fowl’s crow everywhere, and I have become very good at tracking down wild pigs. I worked by myself to clear the land for planting. And all the food I eat is roasted over fire, just like our ancestors did. When I want to eat fish I go down to the sea and spear them. Every morning I go hunting before tending to my gardens”.

“I planted a lot of manioc during my first days because it would be my stable food. I have also been able to map out the wild pig’s routes, which has allowed me to make my gardens where the only way to it for the wild pigs would be through my compound. Unfortunately for them, they always do not return to the wild when they make that mistake” he explains in a calm, but firm tone.

“Next time you come here” he nodded at us “you will see changes; fences and bigger gardens. And of course a nakamal, to show that I have put down roots”.

The last verse of Vanuatu’s National Anthem supportively says; “Yumi save plante wok I stap long ol aelan blong yumi” (We know there are a lot of work in our islands), therefore as citizens we need to be proactive like Roki, develop the land and be productive and do not be lured by the tempting lights of the city or its range of material wealth.

The TIV team camped with him overnight before continuing the RTI Bill consultations to the western part of the island. The team left Roki brochures and information on the RTI Bill including a Vanuatu Constitution Book.

Certainly, when the RTI Bill is passed in parliament it will help people like Roki who live in remote places, it will give them the right to access accurate information wherever they are. Because as time goes by, there might be information that Roki needs in order to develop the land he lives on, and the RTI Bill, when it becomes law, might just be that link to personal and communal development. It will become a lifeline to social and economic development for the very remote places of Vanuatu.

Therefore, voters tell your parliamentary representatives to support the RTI Bill because how, and where, it will help you will be extensively beneficial. To know more of the RTI Bill please view the information on the Transparency Vanuatu blog site; www.tivnews.wordpress

 

TIV Presents Experiences At Samoan Integrity Workshop

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) had the opportunity to participate in a two day Integrity Validation Workshop for Senior Samoan Government Official organized by the Samoa Government, UNODC and UNDP from the 9-10 November 2016.

The workshop is about helping Samoan Government Officials understand the UNCAC Convention and hopefully get the Samoan Government to ratify the UNCAC Convention in the near future. So far 11 Pacific Island States are parties to UNCAC. The countries are; PNG, Fiji, Palau, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Vanuatu is the 4th Pacific Island States to ratify UNCAC.

TIV presented the work we are doing around awareness on the Right to Information in Vanuatu as an example for the region where a CSO is working in partnership with a Government Institution (RTI Unit) in promoting a Government Policy that supports integrity, accountability and transparency in Vanuatu.

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TIV Program Manager, Mr. Wilson Toa – Presentation at the Integrity Workshop for Samoan Government Officials.

This is the third presentation for TIV to do in the Pacific region. In July TIV had the opportunity to present the RTI awareness work with regional institutions in Fiji organized by the Pacific Leadership Program, and in August, TIV again presented the RTI awareness work at a CSO regional workshop in Fiji organize by the South Pacific Island Forum.

TIV is excited about our work on the RTI being recognize regionally especially by regional bodies such as the Pacific Island Forum and the UNDP.

TIV and the Vanuatu Governments RTI Unit carried out awareness in all province especially in the islands of Vanua Lava, Santo, Malekula, Ambae, Pentecost, Ambrym, Efate Outer Islands, Schools in North Efate, Tanna and last week in Erromanga. Next month TIV and RTI will carry out awareness work in the Sherperd Islands.

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 Grand Corruption

GRAND CORRUPTION IS one of the great unresolved legal challenges of our day. With its serious and often global effects, combating grand corruption must be the responsibility of the international community.

For this to happen grand corruption should be treated as an international crime.

Transparency International has developed a legal definition of grand corruption to encourage advocates, scholars, lawmakers, and others to seek ways to enhance accountability of high-level public officials and others whose corruption harms their citizens egregiously and too often with impunity.

If designated as an international crime countries could exercise universal jurisdiction, similar to the treatment of war crimes.

Our targets: the leaders who co-opt the institutions of state for their own personal gain and sweep all before them to do that: human rights, human dignity, equality, development.

What is Grand Corruption? Grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished.

Domestic authorities are often unable or unwilling to bring the grand corrupt to justice. In these cases, the international community has an obligation to act, collectively and through action by individual states.

Grand corruption is a crime that violates human rights and deserves adjudication and punishment accordingly. This ranges from stealing from public budgets used to build hospitals and schools, to constructing dangerous facilities as the result of under funding caused by corrupt actors.

Here is an example of grand corruption – Ukrainian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies stand accused of stealing US $7.5 billion. Yanukovych himself is allegedly complicit in many corrupt activities as well as the murder of activists. He is currently living in Moscow under the protection of the Russian government.

At the same time, Ukrainian prosecutors have shown a reluctance to seriously pursue a public prosecution of Yanukovych, allowing him to spend his stolen wealth and live as a free man. His cronies have impunity, defying prosecutors to prove their corruption, with monies stashed away in other countries.

If Yanukovych were to travel to a country with a grand corruption statute that included universal jurisdiction, he could be held and tried for his egregious crimes against the people of Ukraine.

If Ukraine had a grand corruption statute that allowed for private prosecutions, Yanukovych and his cronies would have much more to fear. If Ukraine’s domestic law allowed for private prosecutions (something currently under discussion in Ukraine) victims could team together to hire lawyers and pursue a case against Yanukovych and his cronies.

What role can civil society perform? Civil parties should be allowed a role in criminal procedures under a grand corruption statute. In such legal systems anti-corruption NGOs can take part in criminal procedures and represent a broad range of victims.

In France, for example, the Transparency International chapter and the group Sherpa represented the victims of three African dictators.

It was announced last week that the son of Equatorial Guinea’s long-time president will go to trial in France almost a decade after the initial complaints were filed.

The younger Obiang is accused of siphoning off more than €200 million (US$225 million) of public money for personal purposes.

Unsurprisingly, he denies the allegations and nothing is being done about it in his home country where his father is firmly in control.

Finally, grand corruption is a major obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development. It undermines and distorts sound financial practice and clean business, both domestically and internationally.

It deepens poverty, inequality and it increases exclusion. Grand corruption also results in violations of human rights; a link recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Together with a group of top international legal experts including the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo, and Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, we worked on translating this understanding of grand corruption into a formulation viable in a legal context.

We developed a legal definition emphasizing that grand corruption occurs when bribery, embezzlement or other corruption offences occur.

Grand corruption used to carry on unseen, with little publicity. Today – thanks to new possibilities opened up by globalization, global communications and investigative reporting, the massive secrecy industry created by the enablers of grand corruption are in headlines every day. So too is the inability of current laws to tackle this transnational network of thievery and worse.

This needs to change. People have had enough. There should be no impunity for the corrupt.

 

Offshore RTI Consultations Completed, Erromango Next

THE ONGOING NATION-WIDE community consultations by Transparency Vanuatu (TV) on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill completed its eleventh campaign throughout the Efate offshore islands and has moved on to the island of Erromango.

It took more than a week to inform the people of the islands of Emau, Lelepa, Moso, Pele, 2and Nguna. The islands of Pele, Lelepa and Moso took a day each to complete while the island of Nguna took three days.

The consultation throughout the islands has been successful. On the island of Pele, for example, seventy five percent (75%) of the population were informed of the RTI Bill. Similarly, on the island of Nguna sixty four percent (64%) of the population were informed of the RTI Bill. A hundred percent (100%) of the people want their Members of Parliament to support the Bill when they were asked if their MP should vote for the RTI Bill or not.

Statistically, this means that more than half of the people from the Efate offshore islands are now aware of the RTI Bill and how the Bill will impact society when it becomes law.

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“Many of us want accurate information, but a lot of time we get information from radio-coconut which makes our decision inaccurate. I belief that this (RTI) Bill will help a lot of people,” said the Atavi (the name represents a chiefly rank) of Piliura village, Pele Island.

The Transparency Vanuatu team that is conducting the consultations have moved on, since Tuesday the 1st of November, to the island of Erromango where the consultations were completed on the 8th of November, 2016.

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On the island of Erromango the team started the campaign at Dillon’s Bay, then to Ipota, before moving out to the other regions on the island. (More reports on this campaign will be published)

Transparency Vanuatu has been involved in a year-long consultation program that aims to inform the people of Vanuatu about the Right To Information (RTI) Bill.

As the campaign moves forward more and more people are now aware of the RTI Bill, and 7more and more people are showing their support by asking their MPs to vote for the RTI Bill when it is tabled in Parliament.

This RTI campaign tours are funded by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), based in Fiji, who supports Transparency 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.

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PLP’s support has enabled Transparency Vanuatu to campaign in communities and schools and host public forums on the RTI Policy and Bill, using its strong networks in the provinces.

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