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 »


Vanuatu-caught tuna unloaded and processed for the first time in Port Vila; VIPA board suspends CEO

The first catch of Vanuatu-caught albacore tuna is unloaded in Port Vila last Friday before being taken to the Sino-Van factory for processing. Photo: Hon. Matai Seremaiah MP/Facebook

The first catch of Vanuatu-caught albacore tuna is unloaded in Port Vila last Friday before being taken to the Sino-Van factory for processing. Photos: Hon. Matai Seremaiah MP/Facebook

The trial frozen albacore tuna off-loading at the Main Wharf took place last Friday without mishap. All media have been reporting the event at which Prime Minister Salwai presided. Henceforth, with the assistance of US surveillance vessels, the Vanuatu Government is committed to the unloading of all Vanuatu-flagged fishing vessels’ fish catches from the Vanuatu Exclusive Economic Zone in Port Vila. Fisheries Minister Matai Seremaiah assisted the PM at the first unloading and many officials were on hand to witness the process. The unloaded fish were quickly removed to the Sino-Van fish packing plant at Blacksands. An American company, Bumblebee, is also discussing a fish canning operation for Vanuatu. Consuming more Vanuatu fish in Vanuatu is likely to reduce the incidence of NCDs as the Food Festival at Tagabe, 9 to 11 November, will make clear.

Daily Post reports the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) Board has suspended the VIPA CEO, Dr Andrina Thomas, without Read the rest of this entry »


Tougher penalties for sexual offences proposed; Maewo gets connected via telemedicine

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Cost a significant barrier to justice in Vanuatu, says Justice Minister Salwai

Access to justice has failed considerably, headlines Daily Post today. Many would definitely agree with Justice Minister Charlot Salwai. At the official opening of Law Week at the Seafront, the Minister pointed out the primary obstacle—fees. “We see that only people with high salaries can have their lawyers paid. Those with little vatu do not have access to a legal service.” Exactly. Salwai also tells lawyers that their primary duty is service—not money. And he wants to see a change in attitudes and conduct of lawyers, as lawyers themselves are part of the problem of access.

The Northern District Hospital (NDH) wants to see similar extensive improvements as Vila Central Hospital. Dr Santos Wari pointed out in the VBTC public forum on health in Northern Province a week ago that 66% Read the rest of this entry »