Pardon Instrument – Judgement Today

THE SUPREME COURT will deliver its judgment on the legality of the Pardon Instrument for the 14 convicted Members of Parliament this afternoon Wednesday, 21st October, 2015.

Both the prosecution council and the defense council gave their submissions to the Supreme Court yesterday morning regarding the legal basis of the pardoning and the revocation of the pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s by the President.

The Prosecution Council claimed in Court that the Pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s including
some Ministers on October 10th 2015 is unconstitutional.

Presidential Revocation

Prosecution Council claimed that the act by the then Acting President Marcellino Pipite was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they claimed that the Pardon Instrument was unconstitutional was conflict of Interest as accorded in Article 66 of the Constitution. The Prosecution counsel said it is a clear that there was a conflict of interest due to the fact that the Acting President pardoned himself and the other convicted MP’s.

Article 66 of the Constitution provides that the Conduct of Leaders is in line with the Leadership Code. It states that any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public and private life, so as not to place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised.

In relation to the revocation of the Pardon by the President of the Republic of Vanuatu His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale, the Prosecution Counsel agreed that the President has the power to revoke instruments of a party which he considers incorrect.

On the other hand, the defense council told the court that they strongly agree that Marcellino Pipite lawfully exercised his presidential powers as accorded by article 38 of the Constitution.

The defense council made this submission court with supporting evidence which is a letter dated 5th October 2015, from the President of the Republic Baldwin Lonsdale formally appointing Marcellino Pipite as the Acting President while he will be out of the country.

Meanwhile, Article 38 of the constitution stated that the President of the Republic may pardon, commute or reduce a sentence imposed on a person convicted of an offence. Parliament may provide for a committee to advise the President in the exercise of this function.

With that, the defense council claimed that the revocation of the pardon was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they said this was that Marcellino Pipite rightfully exercised his legal presidential powers as accorded in article 38 of the constitution.

The constitutional petition was filed last week by Former Prime Minister Joe Natuman to challenge the legitimacy of the pardon.


WATCH: President Revokes Pardon Instrument






The President Has Revoked The Pardon For Pipite And 13 MP’s Convicted Of Bribery

VIDEO: President Lonsdale Revokes Pardon Instrument

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU has revoked the Pardon Instrument that was signed by Pipite on the 10th of October himself and the thirteen convicted Members of Parliament who were charged guilty of bribery under the Penal Code. ‘

The President said that his decision is based on article sixty six (66) of the national constitution which states that

any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public and private life, so as not to;

a. Place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised;

b. Demean his office or position; (c) allow his integrity to be called into question.

c. Endanger or diminish respect for and confidence in the integrity of the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.

“On this values,”” the President declared, “I have come out to let us all know that the option that I decided on, is to revoke the (Pardon) instrument that the Acting President made and gazetted on 11th October, I make this decisions following this reasons:

  1. Marcelino Pipite at that time when was as the Acting President, he was one of those that was convicted on 9th October 2015, and he exercised the power of my office to pardon himself and the other 13 MP’s that were convicted. Chapter 10 of the Constitution shows clearly, in my opinion, that the Acting President infringed every sub-clause of Article 66 (1).
  1. The Acting President at that time used the power of the Head of State to prevent the course of justice to complete its process, and he decided to issue the “Pardon Instrument”, he never consulted me about it, and he took the advice that came from government legal officers.
  1. The Acting President, through the advice of his legal advisers, pardoned himself along with the 13 MP’s at a time when they were already convicted, they were still on bail, and their Sentence had not yet been announced. Also, following the letter that I had received, the advice for the Pardon Instrument came out from the Minister of Justice which as a result made the Acting President react in a way that has put into question the exercise of the power under Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Therefore “following this advice’s, concerning the signature of the Acting President on the Pardoning Order of 10th October 2015,” stated the President, “following advice’s, deep thinking and careful consideration on the situation in my country, I take this time this morning, 16th October 2015, to announce that yesterday 15th October 2015 I revoked the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed on 10th October 2015. I want to inform all the citizens of Vanuatu that, I signed the Revocation of the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed with the hope of bringing back respect and confidence to the exercises of the power under Article 38,” the President declared.

“In the name of Peace and Unity of Vanuatu, I appeal to us all to remain quiet, calm and allow justice to take its course on 22nd October 2015,” the President appeals to the citizens of Vanuatu.

To view or download your copy of the Presidents Statement On Pardon Instrument Revocation click here.

Presidential Revocation

President Considering Options To Clean Up The ‘Dirt’

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU delivered his statement at His Excellency’s Residence this afternoon to a room packed with media personals. In his statement the President emphasized the need to uphold Vanuatu’s national integrity, he further stressed that at the moment Vanuatu’s credibility does not look good, and he deeply apologies for this status that Vanuatu is at, a status that our leaders contributed to create.

“No one is above the law,” he said, “as the Head of the Nation, I want to inform all the people of Vanuatu that I feel deeply sorry for what that has happened in our nation since Friday (9th) until today”.


President Lonsdale

“I appeal to every respected leader, to advice the people under your responsibility to be calm, and to allow the court to complete its process,” the President appealed. President Lonsdale specifically pointed out that the power to pardon is the prerogative power of the President and no one else, therefore any Acting President must consult with the President if they want to exercise that power.

“Today, fellow citizens, as I am addressing
you, the backyard of the kitchen needs to be cleaned” the President said. “I am considering my options on how I will clean up the dirt after I receive my legal advice’s.”

In the statement the President said that “following the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed I am considering the options that I can take, once I am satisfied. When I make my decision, I will instruct the State Law Office to prepare my choice.”

After the statement by the President he was asked; what would he had done if he was in the country, “do you think you would make the same decision (as the decision by the Acting President)?”, the President’s responded saying that such a decision needed a longer period to make, “there is not enough time for someone to make this kind of decision within this very limited short time, this is a very sensitive issue, it needs careful consideration” he explained. At the end his response was a “No”, he could not have made such a sensitive decision within a very short time frame.

“As the President of the Republic of Vanuatu, I simply ask for one simple request,” he said, “that we must look after our people in the right manner so that our children of tomorrow will live and walk in a good environment”.

To view President Lonsdale’s Statement to the Nation click here.

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A Look At The Presidents Speech – First Parliament Ordinary Session

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President Lonsdale Baldwin (l) and Speaker of Parliament (r)

President Lonsdale Baldwin

June 8, 2015. This morning the First Ordinary Session of the Vanuatu Parliament was officially opened by His Excellency Lonsdale Baldwin, President of the Republic of Vanuatu.

The President was elected in September 2014 after several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Electoral College to elect a President from the list of candidates which included other prominent individuals, the following extract is from Transparency International Vanuatu’s reporting from September 26 2014:

“By the end of the sixth sitting even the Chief Justice raised his concern within the National House, ‘you are not here to defend your groupings, you are not here to defend your island, you are not here to defend you religion, you are here to elect a candidate who can become the President”.

“Gradually, out of the 58 votes from the Electoral College, 46 chose Lonsdale Baldwin to be the new President, thus making the province of TORBA proud to have one of their own as the symbol of peace and unity for Vanuatu”.


Inspect first Guard of Honor in 2014

Since then, people have wondered how he will perform in his new role as the President of the Republic. This was answered during his appeal for international assistance right after TC Pam which left massive damages and caused the loss of lives. From Japan while on official tour, President “Baldwin Lonsdale broke down while describing the tragedy in his homeland,” reported the ABC. A commentator from Fiji described that “there is nothing more empowering than when the leader of a nation breaks down in a live interview in front of the whole world to ask for assistance on behalf of his countrymen”.

The President Delivers Powerful Message Based On ‘The Christian Principal’

The Parliament was full with members of the parliament, including representatives from the diplomatic community, public servants, politicians, media personals and others. In this first ordinary session the President reminded the national leaders of their duties to abide by all national principals, specifically religion, or Christianity.

“On this first session I want to base my speech on this fundamental ideals; a call”, the President began”…a call on the national leaders to revisit the original spirit of our national values, and national interests. To capture the missing pages of our founding fathers vision, and dreams for Vanuatu as depicted in our national symbols”. Referencing Second Chronicles Chapter 7, Verse 14 (The Holy Bible) the President read “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

The President (far left) and Prime Minister (right) and other leaders in discussion

The President (far left) and Prime Minister (right) and other leaders in discussion

This powerful speech reflects well the current situation in Vanuatu, our ‘lands’ needs healing – economical, natural and social recovery, especially after TC Pam. Be ‘humble’, and ‘turn’ away from what you are doing that is not right, either it be bribery, unfairness or any other ‘wicked ways’ that is being practiced. It is a ‘sin’ – unlawful, illegal, wrong, therefore, therefore ‘turn’ away.

Citizens Must Be Aware Of Laws

“How much (do the) citizens of the republic of Vanuatu know about the laws that we pass in this parliament? After we have passed this laws…and gazetted, how many of us MP’s, return to our constituencies to explain to our people the laws?” the President called on the leaders.     IMG_2463 (2)

Over the years members of the public have raised this similar questions, in one particular event a voter stood up and questioned a former MP why he has not been back to his island since getting elected. The former MP raised a number of not so confident smiles when his response contained no valid reason.

What If The “Elites” Do Not Know About The Laws Of Vanuatu?

Another point raised by the President was the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reporting in April, 2015. The PAC ;

“found out that some of the government statutory bodies, the government institutions…who are the elites. They do not know about (the) Financial Management Act”.

He furthered stressed that “if the elites do not know about the laws of Vanuatu, then it will be worse for our people. So Mr. Speaker, after 35 years, we need to re-look at our paths. What are the benefits that our people can get regarding these laws?” the President stated.

We Must Be Our Own Priority

Yumi’, said the President, “it appears in our national anthem”. He stressed that the word ‘yumi’ clearly states that every work and decisions that parliamentarians make in the parliament ‘yumi’ must be the first priority.

Our national flag carries a design that “must be remembered” at all times by our leaders. The flag carries a Y shape, beginning from Torres down to Anietyum. It reminds us that the decisions we make here, all the governments’ distributions of services must be distributed fairly, they must follow the lines that are outlined in our national flag.

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session.

Click here to watch the video of the President delivering his speech.

Click here to download full video of the President delivering his speech.

Click here to download full audio of the Presidents speech.

Click here to download copy of Public Accounts Committee report by TIV.