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.