Election results out on Monday; Chief Justice says 2015 a pivotal year for Vanuatu legal system

President Lonsdale inspects guard of honour yesterday

President Lonsdale inspects guard of honour yesterday. Photo: Bob Makin

The Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek, in the presence of the Head of State, President Baldwin Lonsdale, caretaker PM Kilman and members of the judicial and legal professions, yesterday saw 2015 as an important historical year. The Chief Justice saw 2015 as “important for the law and the Courts in this Republic.” He invited his hearers to reflect on the impact of the law on the community, and on the roles of the Judiciary and the legal profession within it. He said “Vanuatu society puts important value on the concept of the rule of law as a cornerstone or pillar in our community. It is important to understand Vanuatu’s legal system and how justice is administered. I say that because, conceptually, this is after all the purpose of the law. Vanuatu’s legal system is mainly based on the common law, some aspects of French law and judicially-declared custom law. Fairness, transparency and access to justice are also fundamental characteristics of Vanuatu’s legal system. The law is there to facilitate the well-being of the people of Vanuatu and society. It is not to be seen as somehow obstructing them.”

A lengthy and important policy statement followed Chief Justice Lunabek’s opening remarks and the Daily Digest hopes to give readers an internet link to the statement in the near future. The opening took place in a day of extreme heat and sunshine and, apart from opening devotional proceedings in a Presbyterian Church service, was largely held in the appalling confines of the temporary (9 years now since the Joint Court was burned down) Dumbea courthouse and its surroundings. The heat and temporary nature of the surroundings added emphasis to the Chief Justice’s ongoing demands for proper court facilities. Well over a hundred participants in the event, many in gowns, or jackets and ties, witnessed the President inspect a guard of honour, with a backdrop of the mis-begotten convention centre.

Further to this Digest’s recently expressed opinion concerning the need for an audit of government finances comes news in Daily Post today that “100 health staff around the country have not received their salaries since December 2015.” This occurs in a year in which the caretaker PM saw Vanuatu ending the financial year with “the biggest fiscal surplus ever recorded in Vanuatu history.” And now we see airlines pulling out from servicing Vanuatu because there is not enough finance to repair the international runway.* Or, it seems, pay health workers.

The official election results for Vanuatu are to be announced by the Electoral Commission over Radio Vanuatu on Monday morning. The Commission has also denied a published complaint that a ballot box from Waluriki was opened en route to Saratamata, saying the report had no substance to it. Another complaint has appeared today concerning Pentecost unofficial figures. The Commission reminds all voters and candidates there is a period of 21 days after the official announcement of results in which complaints may be lodged.


4 Comments on “Election results out on Monday; Chief Justice says 2015 a pivotal year for Vanuatu legal system”

  1. Tony Charles says:

    Let’s be completely sure what we mean here!

    So, in reference to the last two sentences of the Chief Justice’s opening remarks, we mean to say that:

    (1) The law of Vanuatu exists “to facilitate the well-being of the people of Vanuatu and society.”
    (2) The law of Vanuatu “is not to be seen as somehow obstructing” the people of Vanuatu and society.

    Those are the two things that the Chief Justice has said which we wish to interrogate a little further now, where there is some question as to whom should be seen as the intended holder of entitlement under law of Vanuatu; -Do these two things apply to all of the people of Vanuatu or its citizens only?

    Firstly, we should observer that no democracy seeks to create a second class of citizenry. We are all citizens, if not citizens of Vanuatu, then we are international citizens.

    Moreover, the Chief Justice’s remarks place Vanuatu’s law firmly and completely in the context of international law.

    Thus, the people of Vanuatu are indubitably its citizens, its residents, and other such juridical persons.

    By the Oxford Dictionary of Law, and the Yale Law Journal, for example, to have legal personality means to be capable of having legal rights and obligations. This applies internationally, and that applies here, and we must thank the Chief Justice for bringing it to our attention.

    N.B. Human beings acquire legal personhood when they are born, whereas “juridical persons” (or — in other words — any other legal entity) do so when they are incorporated in accordance with law.

    Please let everyone here know should there be any further question in response to this clarification that we may be completely sure of what we mean here.

    Thank you.


    • dailyvanuatu says:

      Firstly, we should observe that no democracy seeks to create a second class of citizenry. We are all citizens, if not citizens of Vanuatu, then we are international citizens.

      Vanuatu has second-class citizens; the various citizenship-by-investment schemes hatched over the last 5 years give citizenship without representation. This class of citizens cannot vote, hold political office, etc. so are not really citizens in any democratic sense. Of course, there are domestic reasons for this, but in real terms probably not an advisable long-term strategy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. C.M. says:

    The last two sentences of Chief Justice’s opening remarks apply to all the people of Vanuatu or to its citizens only? It would be interesting to know! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person