VNPF Commission of Inquiry report a judicial milestone on par with 2015 bribery case

VNPF building, Port Vila. © 2017 Vanuatu Digest

The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged mismanagement and improper conduct of staff of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) has uncovered multiple examples of alleged conflicts of interest involving Board Members and staff. A Criminal Read the rest of this entry »


Chief Justice Lunabek appeals to Govt to build new Hall of Justice

Chief Justice of Vanuatu, Vincent Lunabek. File photo.

Chief Justice of Vanuatu, Vincent Lunabek. File photo.

Chief Justice Lunabek  has reminded Government that 10 years have passed without a replacement for the Supreme Court building, destroyed in an arson attack in 2007. He points out that providing a new Hall of Justice for Vanuatu is the Government’s responsibility. The only activity of Government in the preceding decade has been the provision of the inappropriate ex-British Works headquarters, the Dumbea Centre, for holding court. That, and the appointment of a committee which has achieved nothing. Governments have been able to obtain support for a vastly underused international convention centre, and the present administration seems to Read the rest of this entry »


Seasonal worker scheme expands recruitment into remote communities as demand from NZ farmers grows

RSE scheme workers Philip Tasso (L) and James Iata (R) pick apples on a farm in Motueka, New Zealand. Photo: MFAT NZ

RSE scheme workers Philip Tasso and James Iata pick apples on a farm in Motueka, New Zealand. Photo: NZ MFAT

Read the rest of this entry »


Case dismissed – bribery ex-MPs attempt to get out of prison fails

The catalyst for political change: The 14 MPs are taken to prison following their convictions in October last year

The catalyst for political change: the 14 MPs are taken to prison following their convictions in October 2015. Photo: TIV

The big news today is that the former MPs, ministers and PM jailed for bribery must remain imprisoned. Their offence was a criminal one. Justice James Geoghegan reminded the court that the Article 27 (2) of the Vanuatu Constitution does not provide MPs with immunity from prosecution. He was also certain that the constitutional provision of 27 (2) was not relevant to the requirement the MPs attend the Magistrates’ Court on what is considered by the MPs legal advisors as the key date in the matter, June 12, 2015. Justice Geoghegan said the primary purpose of 27 (2) is to enable Parliament to attend to its business and MPs to attend sittings. (Daily Post)

The other big news this week was the release of some information concerning the Parliamentary sittings, immediately after we complained that MPs were expected to arrive in the capital without the necessary documentation. We believe MPs must be able to discuss proposed legislation with constituents before parliamentary sittings in order to take their views to the House. This failure on the part of Parliament is compounded when Government is seeking in one of the sittings to introduce a Right to Information Act—which Vanuatu Daily Digest fully supports.

The full details concerning the parliamentary agenda have not been publicised, regrettably, but in brief this is what we are to expect: Read the rest of this entry »


Extraordinary session of Parliament called – but agenda shrouded in secrecy

parliament-q

The big news today was carried by Radio Vanuatu, that Parliament is to meet on 21 November. This announcement was given as the usual service message from the Clerk and Speaker of Parliament and gave no details of the agenda of the extraordinary sitting. That said, MPs were told, that owing to communications and transport difficulties, they would not know what the business to be conducted during the extraordinary sitting will concern. They will only receive their packets of documents when they arrive in Port Vila.

For the Westminster democracy system to work properly, the people of Vanuatu need their representatives to be able to discuss any proposed legislation with their constituents, in their electorates, before they arrive in Parliament. It also brings up the question of the MPs constitutional rights to information. Since in recent times we have had to participate in the general discussion concerning electoral reforms and the introduction of income taxes, it behoves the state to set what we call here ‘the Awareness’ in motion at the earliest possible moment. Just saying the MPs papers can be found at the Clerk’s office when they arrive in town does not comply with the MPs’ and general public’s right to information. We will be hearing quite a lot more about rights to information (RTI) and it is to be hoped the next sitting will see Read the rest of this entry »


Supreme Court’s Constitutional case judgement due next Wednesday

File picture of the Vanuatu Supreme Court. Photo: TIV

The Supreme Court will sit next Wednesday to complete the constitutional claims of the 14 ex-MPs in prison for bribery. Former MPs are also giving evidence in the case and Tuesday next week the State Law Office will file its submission in the matter. Judge David Chetwynd will sit at 9am on Wednesday before giving his decision in the constitutional case. Former Public Prosecutor John William Timakata is one appearing on behalf of the SLO. (Radio Vanuatu and Daily Post)

Following an announcement in Daily Post earlier this month pointing out that the kastom owners of Bouffa/Bellevue have had only three premiums paid on the 1,200 leases of their 6,020ha of land from the USP Emalus area to the Teouma River, the kastom owning families are beginning planning with Government a town which will rival Port Vila Read the rest of this entry »


First visit by Indian Minister sees launch of new Vanuatu–India co-operation initiatives

India’s Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal and Vanuatu's Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Leingkone at today's launch of the Vanuatu India Business Interaction

India’s Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal and Vanuatu’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Leingkone at today’s launch of the Vanuatu India Business Interaction

A new bilateral business initiative between India and Vanuatu, the ‘Vanuatu India Business Interaction’, has been launched by Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman and India’s Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal. Deputy PM Natuman pointed out the importance of India as a trading and development partner. This is the first state visit by an Indian minister to Vanuatu, and the two countries also signed an MoU for a Read the rest of this entry »