WATCH: RTI Law Community Awareness On Ambae Island – 2:50 Minutes.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU recently visited the island of Ambae to inform the people there about the National Right To Information Law which which became an official in Vanuatu on 6 February 2017.

In some of the places that we visited the people were part of the consultation process and gratefully acknowledged the opportunity to have been involved in policy making.

This short 2:50 Minutes film briefly summaries a few interviews and shots of the walkabout.

This activity is funded by the Pacific Leadership Program.

WATCH: Short Interviews n RTI Law Community Awareness On Ambae Island

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Pacific Anti-Corruption Progress Newsletter – UNPRAC

THE UNITED NATIONS Regional Anti-Corruption Program (UNPRAC) published recently publish a progressive update on anti-corruption activities in the Pacific.

According to the report the “UN‐Pacific Regional Anti‐Corruption Project supported anti‐corruption victories large and small during 2016. With the project’s support, Solomon Islands launched its national an􀆟‐corruption strategy, while Kiribati proceeded
with the development of their strategy. Kiribati and Vanuatu also established an􀆟‐corruption committees.

CLICK HERE to view the full report and download your copy.

 

Vanuatu In The UNCAC Review Report

VANUATU BECAME A SIGNATORY to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2011, also 11 other Pacific countries that have also signed the UNCAC.

Technically, when Vanuatu became a signatory to the UNCAC then the government is obliged to adapt the UNCAC regulations into Vanuatu’s legal framework in order to strengthen anti-corruption mechanisms in the country.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations

Development Program (UNDP) published two reports under the Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project.

These reports provide an outline of the Pacific’s implementation of Chapter III (Criminalization and Law Enforcement) and Chapter IV (International Cooperation) of the UNCAC. From the reports we identify some of the mechanisms that have been implemented under from the UNCAC.

Anti-Corruption Bodies

According to the report ‘Pacific Implementation of UNCAC Chapter III out of the 11 Pacific countries that signed the UNCAC 10 of them have established relevant anti-corruption bodies, and Vanuatu is one of them.

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Click on the above image to download this report.

Vanuatu has several anti-corruption offices established by the government, they are; Office of the Attorney General (State Law), the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Public Service Commission, the Vanuatu Financial Intelligence Unit and the Professional Standard Unit.

Public Official Offences

Secondly, the UNCAC requires state parties to establish certain offences by public officials as crimes. These includes bribery public officials, embezzlement, misappropriation, diversion of property by a public official, laundering of proceeds of crime and obstruction of justice.

Article 65(2) of the UNCAC also stipulates that; “Each State Party may adopt more strict or severe measures than those provided for by this Convention for preventing and combating corruption”.

Chapter III of UNCAC recognizes “the importance of having a means by which to deter and punish corruption. The Convention requires States to establish criminal and other offences to cover corrupt acts, if these are not already crimes under their domestic law. It includes both mandatory provisions and recommendations to be considered by States parties. Chapter III also focuses on the public and private sectors.”

Defining Public Officials

Who is a public official? According to article 2 of the UNCAC a ’Public official’ shall mean: (i) any person holding a legislative, executive, administrative or judicial office of a State Party, whether appointed or elected, whether permanent or temporary, whether paid or unpaid, irrespective of that person’s seniority; (ii) any other person who performs a public function, including for a public agency or public enterprise, or provides a public service, as defined in the domestic law of the State Party and as applied in the pertinent area of law of that State Party; (iii) any other person defined as a “public official” in the domestic law of a State Party’.

In the Pacific, member States identify ‘public official’ or ‘public servant’ in line with the above UNCAC definition and to variable steps.

For Vanuatu, “it was noted that any member of a public body would be widely interpreted to include Members of Parliament. However, the reviewing experts recommended that Vanuatu ensure that the definition of public officer covers the scope defined in article 2(a) of the Convention and includes a person who performs a public function for a public enterprise”.

Abuse of Functions

Article 19 of the UNCAC obliges States parties to look into criminalizing the abuse of functions by public officials. The abuse of functions is explained as the “failure to perform an act, for the purpose of obtaining an undue advantage for him or herself or for another person or entity”.

Several States have implemented this article while others have not yet implemented theirs, Vanuatu is one of those countries that has implemented such provisions in place which is the Leadership Code Act (LCA) that was enacted in 1999, and interestingly the LCA was implemented a decade before Vanuatu signed the UNCAC.

Note

The information contained in this this article is based on the outcome of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism in the Pacific region until mid-2015. The countries that were covered are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The implementation of Chapter III of the Convention varies across Pacific States parties. The review process identified a number of good practices, as well as differences and gaps in implementation.

The report also covers the implementation of anti-corruption mechanisms in the private sector and many other areas, and can be used as a resources for research.

TIV Chairman acknowledges government’s establishment of Anti-Corruption Committee.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) Dr. Willie Tokon acknowledges the initiative taken by the Government of Vanuatu to establish, and to include TIV as a member in the Anti-Corruption Committee, thus recognizing TIV’s 15 years of advocacy against corruption in Vanuatu.

“This is a big leap for TIV as an anti-corruption advocator in Vanuatu. We advocate against corruption every day and every week using the media, the radio, through our networks, and throughout our community campaign programs. And to be included in such an important committee is a privilege that we will surely support completely” says Dr. Tokon.

“On behalf of the organisation that I represent I would like to acknowledge the government of Vanuatu for having confidence in our work, and our inclusion in the membership of the Anti-Corruption Committee, and we look forward to further collaborations in the future” acknowledges Dr. Tokon.

CLICK HERE to read the full story published by the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Efate Offshore Islands RTI Campaign Kick-Starts Next Week

OFFICERS FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) will be continuing the Right To Information (RTI) Bill Campaign to the island of Emau next week on Tuesday the 18th of October.

After successfully completing the RTI Bill Campaign around the island of Ambrym last month the TIV Team is focused now on visiting the Efate Offshore Islands to inform them about the RTI Bill. And the first island to be visited is the island of Emau.

The TIV Team is expected to begin the RTI awareness at ten o’clock (10:00am) at the Mangarongo Centre School, and invites village leaders and people from the villages of Mapua, Mangarongo, and Marou.

In the afternoon, a second RTI awareness will be held at Wiana village and people from the neighboring villages of Lausake and Ngurua could also attend there.

Transparency International Vanuatu, with financial assistance from the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), has been conducting a year-long campaign since 2015 on the RTI Bill.

Our goals are to inform the people on the contents of the RTI Bill and how it will impact their lives when it becomes law, and to collectively gather and publish their opinions to the general public and to the Members of Parliament (MP) so that we can all share one voice and one vision when the time comes to talk about the RTI Bill when Parliament is in session.

After Emau, the next islands to be visited before the end of this month are the islands of Lelepa, Moso, Pele, and Nguna.

Anti-Corruption Day Observed In Vanuatu

THE VANUATU GOVERNMENT in partnership with Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) hosted this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day down at the Port Vila Seafront.

International Anti Corruption Day is held every year as an opportunity for the community to rally support of the work being undertaken to combat corruption in all its forms. The event was scheduled to be held on the 9th of December 2015, but was postponed to this year.

Programs of that day included a public parade against corruption from Chantilly’s to the Seafront space next to the Port Vila Market House. The VMF Brass band led the parade followed by government leaders, NGO’s and members of the public.

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At the Seafront there were a few speeches, awareness programs, and drama performances 17by the Rainbow Disability Theater Group who created and performed the widely showcased drama – Pikinini Blong Seaview.

And to conclude the half day program Stan & the Earth Force soothingly closed of the activities with some of their hard hitting songs about the reality of life in Vanuatu.

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At a quarter past nine the Honorable Prime Minister Charlot Salwai gave his speech, in his speech he emphasized his government’s commitment towards fighting corruption in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu, as a member state of the UN, is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2011. Therefore it is by obligation that Vanuatu must have in place mechanisms that implement and enforce this UNCAC.

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A statement from the Ministry of Justice earlier that week explained that Vanuatu “has 12been working to strengthen the institutions and laws needed to address corruption. A 2013 review of Vanuatu’s progress to implement UNCAC found that some significant progress has been made, acknowledging work particularly in the areas of ant-money laundering, international cooperation and initiative in Correction Services.”

And because Vanuatu acceded to the UNCAC therefore it is important to have an Anti-Corruption Day so that government and civil society leaders can prioritize that day as a time to report back to the whole country on what they have done specifically in the areas of anti-corruption.

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Those who also provided statements on anti-corruption today were the Director General for the Ministry of Justice Mark Bebe, the Ombudsman Kalkot Mataskelekele, and Transparency International Vanuatu Board Secretary Mr Joe Kalo.

The Ministry of Justice and the Office the Prime Minister were the main offices behind the observation of anti-corruption days, and Transparency International Vanuatu, as a civil society organization has been privileged to have worked in collaboration with the said offices during the past weeks and months towards the event.

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The theme for this years celebration of the Anti Corruption Day in Vanuatu was “Fight Corruption. Use the Right Information. Enough Hearsay.”

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A media release from the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MOJCS) this week elaborated more on the reasons behind hosting the Anti-Corruption Day.

The statement says that the theme reflects a key strategy “which the government is implementing to lead a more open and transparent administration”.

The statement also recognized Transparency International Vanuatu’s assistance towards the raising public awareness on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill. The statement from the MOJCS further explained that the theme for anti-corruption day was developed earlier this year, and Transparency International Vanuatu has been using it to conduct awareness programs on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill around the islands of Vanuatu.

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Right To Information (RTI) is a Bill that is still in the drafting process yet to be passed in 10parliament which will give free access to the right information needed in this country.

The statement explained that in 2014 “the Government launched the Right To information (RTI) Policy which when fully implemented will mean that each agency will publish information on its organization, policies, activities and expenditure.

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RTI will also mean that any person will be entitled to ask for any information held by the Government, and the Government will be required to provide that information, with limited exemptions to protect such things as personal privacy, national security, health and safety and legal privilege. An RTI Unit to oversee implementation of RTI has been established within the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer.”

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“The Ministry of Justice and Community Services is leading a review of the Ombudsman 5and Leadership Code Acts to make sure that the laws reflect community standard and are strong enough to fight corruption in our public institutions. Other work to combat corruption in the private and not government sectors has also occurring.”

Over the years advocacies after advocacies have been implemented to combat corruption at all levels of society, yet no law has been tabled in Parliament that would evidently fight corruption effectively across all levels. It is about time now that Vanuatu move forward to enforce in such laws, and the Right To information is one of them.

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During Transparency International Vanuatu community awareness programs on the RTI around Vanuatu a hundred percent of the people that were talked to wanted the RTI Bill to be passed and to become law, and though some people were careful on their opinions they eventually expressed support to have such a law place.

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It was during the RTI Toksave on Malekula when a Chief from the North West emphasized13
that “this is God’s plan, everything comes in a timely manner. This RTI Bill must become law. With human nature and Gods divine power anything is possible.”

It was also during another RTI Toksave on West Ambae when an elder from Vilakala village shed tears of joy. After listening to the RTI awareness the elder expressed that “Vanuatu will be free at last.”

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He explained that “when I heard of the Right to Information Bill, I knew that Vanuatu will be free at last because despite our independence we are still not free yet, because the information that we want is not readily available to us citizens.”

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The right to information originates as a national fundamental right, and is expressed in 23
Vanuatu’s National Constitution under article five.

At the moment there is no RTI Law that will give legal effect to this fundamental right however preparations have already been made and an RTI policy was launched in 2014, and until it becomes law TIV will continue to advocate for the RTI in Vanuatu.

The RTI is important because it is a symbol of an open democracy and a key to governance. The RTI promotes transparency and accountability in the public sector. It supports and protects human rights and it strengthens the foundations of democracy, and most importantly it fights against corruption.

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Thus the theme – Fight Corruption. Use The Right Information. Enough Hearsay. In Bislama it translates as “Faetem Korapsen. Yusum Raet Infomeisen. Inaf Blong Harem Se.”

As Transparency International Vanuatu continues to face further cuts on organizational funding we would like to continue to encourage us to be strong against corruption, corruption is everyone’s business. We have witnessed first-hand tears of hopelessness that were shed because of corruption, expressionless faces with eyes filled with pain. But we have also seen tears of joy, faces filled with energy and eyes filled with hope because corruption was defeated and removed as a parasite, an unwanted obstacle, towards achieving better living standards, a better future, and fair justice.

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For more information relating to any topics in our work please do contact us at transparency@vanuatu.com.vu or you call us at: 25715.

 

 

World Media Press Freedom Day In Photos

THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY activities in Vanuatu took place on Tuesday the 3rd near the Port Vila Market House.

The activities were spearheaded by the Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV) and included speeches by the Prime Minister, Leaders in the Pacific, the Vanuatu media industry including Government leaders.

There were booths that were set up by different media outlets and organisations to give out information on what they do.

The theme for that day was – Right To Information Saves Lives. The event saw a Media Freedom Parade through town before speeches were given at the Seafront by the Prime Minister, the President of Media Association of Vanuatu including other heads of media companies in Vanuatu.

Enjoy the photos!

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