Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 13 October 2015: TIV reports the President

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”.

Transparency International Vanuatu will publish the full statement by the President through our blogsite www.tivnews.wordpress once it is received from the Office of the President.


3 Comments on “Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 13 October 2015: TIV reports the President”

  1. Section 36 of the Vanuatu constitution clearly would be worthless if the President or a person acting as a President could at anytime grand himself a pardon, within the 2 weeks of notification to be provided. Hence, s36 implies that the President, and so anyone acting in the capacity of President, cannot grand himself a pardon.
    TERM OF OFFICE AND REMOVAL OF PRESIDENT 36. (1) The term of office of the President of the Republic shall be 5 years. (2) The President of the Republic may be removed from office, only for gross misconduct or incapacity, by the electoral college provided for in Article 34 on a motion introduced by at least one-third of the members of the college and passed by at least two-thirds of its members, when at least three-fourths of its members, including at least three-fourths of the Chairmen of the Local Government Councils, are present. (3) At least 2 weeks notice of the motion provided for in subarticle (2) shall he given to the Speaker. (4) If there is no quorum at the first sitting as provided in subarticle (2), the electoral college may meet and vote on the motion provided for in subarticle (2) a week later even if there is only a quorum of two-thirds of the members of the college.
    For this I view that the Pardon’s purportedly granted by the speaker acting as President cannot be upheld in law and are null and void.
    The following authority also may be considered to apply as much to a “pardon” as legislation;
    Uniform Tax \case, 1942 (65CLR 373 at 408) 23-7-1942
    Common expressions such as: ‘The Courts have declared a statute invalid’,” says Chief Justice Latham, “sometimes lead to misunderstanding. A pretended law made in excess of power is not and never has been a law at all. Anybody in the country is entitled to disregard it. Naturally, he will feel safer if he has a decision of a court in his favor, but such a decision is not an element, which produces invalidity in any law. The law is not valid until a court pronounces against it – and thereafter invalid. If it is beyond power it is invalid ab initio.

    Also the bias by the Speaker acting as President may be considered in the following quotation as applicable to a judge.

    The book “Law Made Simple” by Colin F. Padfield, LL.B.,D.P.A.(Lond.) on page 55:
    “The Rule against Bias. A true judicial decision can be reached only if the judge himself is impartial. This is an obvious requirement in a court of law or a tribunal. In R. v Rand (1866) it was held that a judge is disqualified where (i) he has a direct pecuniary interest, however small, in the subject-matter in dispute; or (ii) there is real likelihood that the judge would have a bias in favour of one of the parties.

    For example, if a judge is related to, or is a friend of, one of the parties to a dispute there would be real likelihood of bias. It is immaterial whether a judicial decision was in fact biased, for as was said by Lord Chief Justice Heward in R. v Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy (1924): ‘Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.’


  2. As a CONSTITUTIONALIST (Australia) I view that the constitution of Vanuatu does give the powers to the Speaker when exercising the position of the president to provide for pardons. As such had the speaker exercised this right to pardoning his co-convicted Members of Parliament it would have in my view been acceptable? However, by pardoning himself the Speaker when exercising Presidential powers clearly abused/misused his position and by this the pardons granted to the co-convicted must be deemed also unconstitutional.
    The term “pardon” is one that means that one pardon’s another person, and not one self. As such the speaker as stand in as president had no constitutional powers to pardon himself. It is by pardoning himself he effectively invalidated the pardons he gave to his fellow convicted Members of Parliament and as such I view all the pardons are null and void. In that regard I view the Speaker (acting as president) acted in defiance of the constitution and should be held legally accountable for misuse of the Office of the President.
    In my view the President should exercise his powers to revoke the 14 pardons as having been combined an abuse of power.
    38. 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.
    While the committee may advise the President then clearly this includes that the President may “consider” the advice given by such committee.
    While the President may provide a “pardon” without advice of the committee, nevertheless the principle for the President to “consider” if a pardon should be granted cannot be ignored. On that basis any conduct by the Speaker acting as President to provide a “pardon” to himself fails to include an “impartial” consideration.
    (2) Protection of the law shall include the following-
    (a) everyone charged with an offence shall have a fair hearing, within a reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court and be afforded a lawyer if it is a serious offence;
    The constitution clearly has the legal principle that a court shall be “independent and impartial” and in my view this too can be held applicable to the President or any person acting as President that this consideration for a “pardon” shall be “independent and impartial”.
    See also my blog at


  3. john kensie says:

    justice is for all citizens