Penalty for sex crimes against minors now life imprisonment under new Penal Code

One of Port Vila's correctional centres. Photo: Flickr/mikecogh

The Penal Code is undergoing significant changes. The penalties for violent and sexual crimes against the younger age groups are being massively increased. Incest, for example, has the prison term extended from 10 to 15 years. Life imprisonment is ordered for sexual offences against those 13 years and under. The alterations to the Penal Code Cap 135 are being gazetted in the next issue of the Government Gazette.

Radio Vanuatu News has taken up the political campaign which will lead to the provincial elections on March 23. Tafea, Shefa, Malampa and Penama are involved. Certain political parties in Shefa are joining forces in campaigning. Graon mo Jastis Party, the Green Confederation, and the Leaders Party yesterday signed an MOA to put one candidate for Emae, Nguna/Pele and Lelepa to enter the Shefa Council. GJP President Minister Ralph Regenvanu pointed out how the three parties are working together in the Salwai Tabimasmas Government and it is felt their provincial cooperation will enable them to further assist national governance.

The Ministry of Lands yesterday signed the agreement for the Freswota Park at Freswota 5. Port Vila Municipality Mayor Ulrich  Sumptoh and the Port Vila Chiefs’ Council signed the Freswota 5 park management agreement. This is intended to underscore the reasons for more green spaces for people in the municipal area. And for his side Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu pointed out that this park would be different to other green spaces because part of it takes in the town water catchment zone. This is Port Vila’s seventh town park.

An amendment to the Water Supply Act of 2016 puts drinking water quality standards under the control of the Ministry of Lands. There are likely to be notices for residents too close to Tongoa water supply points to move their places of habitation. A Government drilling rig funded by the European Union is to work on Tongoa. IsraAid is funding water projects on Tongoa this week.

Vendors at the main central market in Port Vila are contemplating strike action. This and other town market places went on strike late last year. Most media are suggesting it is about to happen again, principal vendors and farmers being unhappy with the rise in municipal market fees. Consultations with farmers from market garden areas around Efate and off-shore islands have been arranged by the Port Vila Market House Manager, Théophile Massing, for this weekend.