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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South East Ambrym RTI Consultation Completed

THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL community awareness/consultation campaign conducted by Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) throughout the south eastern part of the island of Ambrym was completed successfully after reaching almost fifty percent (50%) of the population during the first three days of the 10th RTI Bill Consultation.

The TIV Team on the island began the campaign at the village of Endu, which is close to the north eastern part of the island, and finished at Taviak village which the southernmost village in the south east region of Ambrym island.

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Feedback received by community leaders had been positive, at every meeting everyone showed support for the RTI Bill. A law enforcement officer on the island expressed his appreciate for the RTI Bill when he said that “If this Bill pass I will be very happy. It will help us a lot. For now everything is easier for the people in Port Vila. But when this RTI Bill becomes law it will be easier for us in the rural areas to access information”.

“This information is exactly what the people of South East need” said the Area Secretary of the South East Ambrym Area Council Mr. Kerbi.

Mr. Kerbi had joined the TIV Team right at the start, and was there to farewell them when they journeyed on by boat to the western side of the island to continue the consultation process. He was instrumental in organising the community meetings and arranging the each days’ schedules.

Almost one thousand (1,000) people of south east Ambrym were informed of the RTI Bill, and a hundred percent of them showed support for the RTI Bill.

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The TIV Team that is doing the community consultation work is looking forward to move on to the next region which is the Efate Offshore Islands. When the preparation stages are complete Transparency International Vanuatu will continue to update you on its community consultation schedules.

Also, this notice also goes out to the people of Erromango, if you would like the TIV Teamambrym-rti to come to your village please contact us by Tel: 25175, or you can visit the office so that we can begin to identify the places we can visit.

Again, this RTI Bill will affect us all, therefore it is important to know about it before it becomes law. Transparency International Vanuatu, with assistance from our partners will continue to lobby, advocate, and push for anti-corruption tools like the RTI Bill to become a reality so that we can achieve transparency and accountability in our decisions and choices.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

TIV Ready To Tour Malekula On The Right To Information

A TEAM FROM TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU will be visiting the island of Malekula next week to conduct the Right To Information consultations in several community and schools. The team encourages member of the public on Malekula to attend this sessions and to share their opinions.

On this coming Sunday the team will be a Dotre Dae at Rano. On Monday next week the team will be at Lakatoro Junior Secondary School, at Rensarie College and in the evening at Unua Community.

On Tuesday the 5th of April the team will begin the consultation sessions at Tautu community, then on t Norsup College and then to Pinalum community.

On the following day on Wednesday the Right To Information Public Forum will be held at the Wilkins Stadium conference room at 8 o’clock in the morning. In the afternoon the team will visit Unmet community.

On Thursday the team will visit Amelvet School, Orap Secondary School, Atchin community and Matanvat village. The last consultation will take place at the Lakatoro market house on Friday the 8th and will start at 11:30am.

Apart from the Right To Information the team will also be talking about corruption and its effects on societies at large. Also to be talked about is the Vanuatu Constitution, and copies of it in Bislama will be given the schools and communities visited.

For any further information regarding these activities please call the Transparency International Vanuatu office at Tel; 25715. Or email; transparency@vanuatu.com.vu

TIV Ready To Conduct RTI Awareness Around Tanna Island

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU will be conducting several public awareness programs on the Right To Information (RTI) on the island of Tanna from 21st to the 28th of February, also participating is the Right To Information Unit who will have an officer join the TIV Team on Tanna Island.

In preparation for this tour a site visit was conducted by two TIV officers in early February to identify potentials communities and venues that could host the public awareness program. The two officers also visited the TAFEA Provincial Headquarters on Tanna to assist in identifying the communities.

The TIV Civic Education Coordinator, Mr. Douglas Tamara, said that according to the site visit TIV will be conducting awareness on several different schools, villages and provincial Institutions on the island of Tanna.

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“On the 21st of February we will be visiting Bethel village, then on the 22nd we will be going to the Lenakel Presbyterian College, the Lenakel main Market and also Tafea College as well,” Mr. Tamara said.

Mr. Tamara continued to say that “on the 23rd there will be an RTI forum held at the Provincial Chamber from 9 o’clock in the morning till lunch time where there will be light refreshments available for everyone. And then in the afternoon the team will be visiting Isangel College”.

Mr. Tamara also confirmed that on the 24th – 27th February the team will be visiting the outer communities on the south, south east, north, north east and the central part of Tanna.

The Secretary General for Tafea Province, Mr. Reynold Surmat, including the heads of the colleges to be visited acknowledged Transparency International Vanuatu for the task they will be carrying out in Tanna to widen the knowledge of people about the right to information.

Tafea SG Mr. Reynolds acknowledged the TIV members for visiting them and talking to

Mr. Reynold Surmat SG for TAFEA Province,

TAFEA SG, Mr. Reynolds Surmat.

them about the importance of RTI awareness and RTI forum which will help people understand and contribute ideas to the drafting of the RTI bill.

The right to information means that any person or organization has a legally recognized right to request and obtain information, subject to limited exceptions, from public and in some instances private bodies performing public functions.

An RTI policy was launched in 2013 and it commits the government to release information Banner 1to the public. Eventually, an RTI bill is currently being draft and the next step is for that bill to get approval into parliament and to be voted in to become a law of Vanuatu.

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 to reduce corruption in Vanuatu.

Individuals have the right to access and correct all personal information held by public and private bodies about themselves.

The right to information is important as it is: the foundation for the development of a nation; a symbol for open society; the key means to achieve good governance;  promotes openness, transparency and accountability in the functions of every public authority; reduces corruption; support and protect human rights; make citizens part of decision making; and strengthen the foundation of democracy.

WATCH: Right To Information Awareness on the island of Santo.

 

 

Voters Are Keeping A Watchful Eye On Their Elected Candidates

NOW THAT WE have 52 members of Parliament being elected as per the un-official result, voters are now expecting their candidates or political party to adhere to their campaign messages and promises.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) went around and spoke to several voters about what they expect from their elected candidates. A male youth, aged 23, told TIV that he was happy with his vote in the snap election because he chose a right person. A person who is qualified and believes will voice his concerns in the parliament.

“I voted for a Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) candidate who was among the leading candidates in the snap election. I just want to remind my candidate that when you are in the parliament please do not forget the people who voted for you,” the youth said.

The 23 year old also explained that “when you are there in parliament, please do continue to come down to the community sometimes and visit us, see our needs and support us in developing our community.”


 

“I want you to treat us all like we expect you to,” the youth said.


Another female youth of 28 years old, who also voted for a Graon mo Jastis Pati candidate said she is looking up to her candidate in the next four years time.

“Our livelihood this next four years depends on the decisions that you will make,” she said.

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“I believe people with high qualifications will make a change in the next four years. Therefore I just want to congratulate and encourage that the good works be continued to promote accountability in leadership” she explained.

This female youth continued to say that “since your (GJP) policies are about Lands and Justice we ask you to consider the impacts any land regulations may have on custom land owner lands before passing bills in the parliament. Also justice must always prevail like what we have seen in 2015 where 14 members of parliament were jailed for bribery. People were satisfied to see that justice was served, and that should be maintained.”

TIV also met a 70 year old male from the Island of Ambae who voted proxy in his home Island.He said his candidate contested under the Nagriamel Party.

When TIV asked him if he was satisfied with his proxy vote he responded with a big smile on his face, “Yes I am happy because when the unofficial results were released, my candidate was one of the names who won.”

He continued to say that “it is important for our candidate to think about people at the grassroots level. Pay regular visits to us in the community and help us with our needs to develop our communities in the Island. Also, if you happen to secure a portfolio in the government, always remember the people. Do notbe like the past MPs who never came to our home Island to visit us but would only visit during election campaign periods.”

In addition, a mother of two kids living at Freswota Four area told TIV that MP salaries and employee’s salaries must both be reconsidered.

“Cut down MPs salaries, increase MP allocation, increase minimum wages for employees both private and government and help provide more job opportunities,” she said.

The mother also suggested that all government households should be repaired and rented out to generate more government revenue.

Also, “since my candidate is a lawyer belonging to the Union of Moderate Party (UMP), he should make a law that will require MPs who want to join another party must formally resign. And then they must apply to join another party,” she added.

Moreover, TIV also spoke to two Ifira boatmen aged 34 and 23. They were proud to have casted their votes for a Labor Party candidate who is among the leading candidates in the unofficial results.

“We are very happy with our votes. And now that he will be securing a seat in the parliament we just ask him to work on his policies and that they are fulfilled” they said.“And He must not neglect the grass root level people, this is very important,” one of them pointed out.

Furthermore, a Vanua’Ku Party (VP) voter, who is a 60 years old elderly man, told TIV that he wants his candidate to concentrate on developing communities and not fill up supporter’s pockets.

“The candidate that I voted for in Vila won his seat and he belongs to Vanua’Ku Party. My message to him is clear: do not give or accept any form of bribery; concentrate on developing community services, do not fill supporters’ pockets improve urban health services in Vila so that Vila Central Hospital can concentrate on dealing with referred or serious cases only; and last but not the least VP must have a youth wing so that transitional planning can be encouraged. It will help ease the handover of power from the old politicians to the young leaders,” the 60 year old voter said.

With regards to the role of an MP, the Vanuatu Parliament website explains it clearly. According to the site most MP’s are viewed as “having three roles that of a parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member.”

If you are interested to know more about the role of Members of Parliament please visit the Transparency International Vanuatu office or call us at 25715. Email: transparency@vanuatu.com.vu

WATCH: Voters share their opinions from the island of Santo.