TIV Continues Right To Information Law Awareness Law To Malekula Island 

A Transparency International Vanuatu Team is currently on the island of Malekula to conduct Right To Information Law (RTI) Awareness on the island.


Malekula will be the third island to receive Transparency International Vanuatu’s RTI Law Community Awareness Sessions after the islands of Tongoa and Tanna.

After Malekula the Team will travel to Luganville for a week of community and youth oriented awareness programs before moving to the nearby island of Ambae.

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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.

 

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support For Right To Information On Pentecost

CLOUDY SKIES LOOMED ABOVE as the Air Taxi gracefully touched down at Lonoro Airport, South Pentecost. Two Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) officers arrived on the island on board the six-seater aircraft on Friday the 19th to continue the nation-wide Right To Information (RTI) Bill community awareness on the island, and by the end of their five day awareness program they had visited over fifteen communities and had spoken to over seven hundred people.

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Since 2015 Transparency International Vanuatu has been heavily involved on a nation-wide community awareness program carefully moving from one island to the other, gradually thousands of people are being informed of how the RTI Bill can affect their lives when it becomes law. And so far, everyone has been positive about their right to access accurate information and hoping that their representatives in parliament will represent their wishes.

On the island of Pentecost the TIV team held their first community awareness at the 2Waterfall community, the home village of Member of Parliament for Pentecost MP Silas Bule. With a small population of less than a hundred people the community derives its name from the actual waterfall located around 200 to 300 meters behind the village and near the base of the mountainous landscape that stretches along the entire length of the island, from the north to the south.

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“It is true that information is hard to get today,” said the chief of Waterfall. “When you go to Vila to get information the response you get is ‘come again tomorrow’” the chief pointed out, “I went to Vila to try and get information on some work that I was doing and I ended up staying in Vila for seven months. It cost me over three hundred thousand vatu (VT300, 000) and I did not finish my work and came back, also the family that I was with were getting tired of me”.

He continue to say that he is happy with the RTI Bill, “if it passes then its good because we are just wasting time and money just for nothing”.

The chief then described a real situation where the Right To Information can be put to 4really good use; “I signed an agreement with contractors from the public works to use our sand and coral for the construction of the cement slaps across the creeks. When they finished they never paid us for the materials, they lied to us that they would pay us but they never did until they left”.

This is an incident, said the chief, where the Right To Information can be utilized to get information on the contractors as well as their operational budget breakdown and how much cost they allocated towards community assistance.

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Leaning against the post in the middle of the Waterfall nakamal Mr. Bule, an elderly villager, conveyed his support for the RTI, “to add on with what the chief has just said, for forty years I have been going to Vila to get information, I was a teacher and I taught for twenty one years” he revealed. “For a long time now I have been going to Vila to get information on my back pay, I went to the Teaching Service Commission they did not know me. I went to the Teachers Union, where I pay my bills all the time, and they do not recognize me as a teacher who paid bills for teachers before when I was at Kawenu (Primary School). There is no good answer, and as the chief said, every time they say ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’. And so for forty years now there is nothing16. No answer”.

“Every time I come there is no answer, but those children that I taught are ‘big men’ of our country today” said Mr. Bule, “but still they do not recognize me. I just came back (from Vila), I was there for a month but there was no answer”.

He took deep sigh and said “I just want to say that make this (RTI) Bill pass quick”.

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The following day the team continued the awareness campaign to Pangi village, which is considered as the commercial hub for the South Pentecost region, and then to Wanur village by boat where a ‘victory’ feast for their local String Band (Salma Local String Band) was getting underway.

Villagers from Wanur, Pangi, Point Cross, and as far as Bunlap were present at Wanur. It was the right place to disperse necessary national information to a broad and wider audience.

On that same day the regenerated South Pentecost Football League affiliated clubs were 7challenging each other at the Panas football field. Over 200 hundred club supporters watched from the sidelines as South Pentecost’s best entertained their afternoon. Also from the sidelines TIV Officer Douglas Tamara blasted RTI information through the PA system during half-times while RTI brochures, posters and copies of the Vanuatu Constitution were being distributed to the football players and their supporters.

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“My name is Graham, I am from Pangi village” said a middle age football supporter, “we are happy to hear this information because it will give us the right to ask the government information relating to developments, for example in the health sector”. He particularly pointed out that their area was poorly equipped to provide proper medical services.

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The awareness team visited Melsisi, Tansip, Wali, Fanaea, and several more communities before moving to the north of the island. Of the total number of people that were talked to on the island sixty two percent (62%) of them were male and thirty eight percent (38%) of them were female, they all support the RTI Bill a hundred percent (100%)

Apart from the doing awareness on the RTI the team also distributed Bislama copies of the Vanuatu Constitution throughout the villages that were visited.

Furthermore, anti-corruption information was given out, it was said that during the 11recent electoral campaigns in January this year corruption was a big topic that heated up a lot of debates and discussions. This shows that corruption is becoming more discussed and is recognized at the community level as an enemy. Transparency International Vanuatu will continue to advocate against corruption during this awareness programs across Vanuatu.

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Transparency International Vanuatu will continue consultations on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill to the island of Ambrym next month.

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The RTI campaign program is supported financially by the Pacific Leadership Program. The Pacific Leadership Program (PLP)  is one of TIV’s partners and they support TIV’s work with Government’s Right to Information (RTI) Unit to raise awareness on the RTI Policy and Bill. This has enabled TIV to visit communities and schools and host public forums on the RTI Policy and Bill.

PLP supports action by Pacific Island leaders in policy and institutional changes and reforms promote stability, effective governance and economic growth at the regional, national and sub-national level.  The RTI awareness throughout Vanuatu has built the public’s knowledge and understanding of the principles of good leadership and the importance of government transparency.

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).

RTI Awareness To Be Conducted Around Pentecost Island

OFFICERS FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU will be conducting several community awareness and consultation sessions on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill with several communities around the south of island of Pentecost from the 19th to the 24th of August.

This Pentecost RTI Awareness is the seventh of its kind to be conducted in Vanuatu in partnership with the Governments Right To Information Unit. The islands that have already been visited are the islands of Tanna, Malekula, Santo, Malo, Ambae, and Vanua Lava.

The team from Transparency International Vanuatu will be visiting communities beginning from the south of Pentecost then gradually moving up to the communities in the central part of the island before concluding the program in the north.

The Right To Information Policy was launched by the government in early 2014, thereby forming the basis for the Right To Information Bill to be developed. The RTI Bill was listed to be debated in Parliament in late 2014 but was withdrawn for further revisions, it was listed to be discussed during the First Ordinary Session of Parliament of 2016 but was again withdrawn.

While the officers are there 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.

 

 

NGO Workshop on the RTI Bill

OVER 20 REPRESENTATIVES from different NGO’s and Community Associations attended the Right To Information (RTI) Workshop that was held at The Melanesian yesterday the 7th of July.

Representatives from youth groups, church groups, the media and chief and women’s councils attended the workshop. The workshop aimed to familiarize the contents of the Right To Information (RTI) Bill to the participants, and also to answer questions and receive comments from civil society groups on the RTI Bill.

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“I think it is about time that we have this” said the participant. A former senior public servant expressed that “this Bill will help a lot”. He continued to state that “there are a lot of financial inconsistencies that the public are not aware of.”

“I see that this Bill talks about the right information,” said a Pastor from the Assemblies NGO RTI WORKSHOP 1of God Church who attended the workshop, “I am happy with the RTI, it should have come with independence so that it can fight corruption. The Bible says that when you tell the truth you will be set free, therefore I believe that the RTI Bill will enforce our Christian principle and make things better for our country.”

“The mothers of Vanuatu have cried for the Right To Information Bill since the 1980’s,” explained the CEO of the Vanuatu National Women’s Council (VNWC) Mrs. Leias Cullwick, “please get this RTI Bill into parliament immediately”.

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The workshop was organized by Transparency International Vanuatu in partnership with the Government’s Right To Information Unit and the Media Association of Vanuatu.