Social Media Workshop Up-skills Media In Vanuatu

IN HIS 1997 ADDRESS at the United Nations former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said “knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

As Vanuatu races towards achieving its objective to technologically connect 98% of the country by 2018 the citizens, and especially those that work in mass communication, need to be updated on how to use trending communication tools and applications that everybody else around the world is using.


From the 22nd to the 24th of November 2016, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) hosted a 3 day Digital and Social Media Workshop for media specialists and journalists around Port Vila at the Vanuatu Institute of Technology.

The workshop was facilitated by David Bathur the co-founder of a consultancy firm is called Simpatico based in Australia. Simpatico is a training and consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations to ‘digitally transform’ themselves.

Focusing on how to deliver accurate information to readers, the workshop revealed to the participant’s internet tools that can be used to identify the background or find out whether a news article or a trending photo is genuine or fake.

The workshop assisted participants to create accounts in the different social media platforms as well how to reach as many people as possible with information.

In an interview with the former head of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in 2014, Mr. Fred Samuel told Transparency International Vanuatu that “information is like power, and with this power comes responsibility, we have to use information for the right purposes.”

Therefore, having the right training’s and professional advice is a key to ensuring that information is shared responsibly.

As more media platforms are introduced to share information with the masses it is the responsibility of those that facilitate that process to be insightful of these media platforms and to be up-skilled to be able to contribute to national development.







Successfull RTI Campaign 

IT HAD BEEN a successful year-long campaign for Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) since November 2015 in our nation-wide activity of consulting and informing the people of Vanuatu about the Bill for the Right To Information (RTI) Act which is currently listed to be tabled in Parliament this week.

More than a year ago in 2015 the first consultation sessions kick started in the town of Luganville where over five hundred people were informed about the RTI Bill on the first day of the two week consultation program on the island of Santo.

Gradually, over the next several months thousands of people got informed as more islands were covered in this first ever nation-wide community consultation program to be conducted by TIV in partnership with the Vanuatu Government’s Right To Information Unit and funded by the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) that is based in Fiji.

The TIV teams that worked in the field had one daily objective; Everywhere. Anywhere. We Must Consult – Every citizen has the right to be informed of the laws of Vanuatu.

With this objective the TIV teams made it their mission to cover at least five or more villages in one day, and they made it a habit of informing anyone they meet about the RTI Bill whether it be on a ship, plane, in a vehicle, or on a boat like they did while traveling around the island of Erromango.

Fortunately, despite the limited time and resources allocated for each community consultation session on each island hundreds of people participated in the consultation sessions.

Throughout the islands people reacted in different ways when they were informed of the Right To Information Bill. Some people got angry for having waited too long for such a Bill, while some pointed out that the Divine Hands of God was shaping the country’s future away from the negative influences that corrupt the country’s system.

And to some, to simply be informed of the Right To Information Bill is in itself a satisfying feeling, like the old man on the island of Ambae who declared, with tears running down his face, that “Vanuatu will be free at last” because people will have the legal right to access information.

In every village and in every island that took part in the RTI Bill consultations not a single citizen opposed the Bill. Every citizen that was informed declared their support for the RTI Bill and said that their Members of Parliament should do the same because that is what they, the people, have decided.



Understanding Grand Corruption

GRAND CORRUPTION IS one of the great unresolved legal challenges of our day. With its serious and often global effects, combating grand corruption must be the responsibility of the international community.

For this to happen grand corruption should be treated as an international crime.

Transparency International has developed a legal definition of grand corruption to encourage advocates, scholars, lawmakers, and others to seek ways to enhance accountability of high-level public officials and others whose corruption harms their citizens egregiously and too often with impunity.

If designated as an international crime countries could exercise universal jurisdiction, similar to the treatment of war crimes.

Our targets: the leaders who co-opt the institutions of state for their own personal gain and sweep all before them to do that: human rights, human dignity, equality, development.

What is Grand Corruption? Grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished.

Domestic authorities are often unable or unwilling to bring the grand corrupt to justice. In these cases, the international community has an obligation to act, collectively and through action by individual states.

Grand corruption is a crime that violates human rights and deserves adjudication and punishment accordingly. This ranges from stealing from public budgets used to build hospitals and schools, to constructing dangerous facilities as the result of under funding caused by corrupt actors.

Here is an example of grand corruption – Ukrainian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies stand accused of stealing US $7.5 billion. Yanukovych himself is allegedly complicit in many corrupt activities as well as the murder of activists. He is currently living in Moscow under the protection of the Russian government.

At the same time, Ukrainian prosecutors have shown a reluctance to seriously pursue a public prosecution of Yanukovych, allowing him to spend his stolen wealth and live as a free man. His cronies have impunity, defying prosecutors to prove their corruption, with monies stashed away in other countries.

If Yanukovych were to travel to a country with a grand corruption statute that included universal jurisdiction, he could be held and tried for his egregious crimes against the people of Ukraine.

If Ukraine had a grand corruption statute that allowed for private prosecutions, Yanukovych and his cronies would have much more to fear. If Ukraine’s domestic law allowed for private prosecutions (something currently under discussion in Ukraine) victims could team together to hire lawyers and pursue a case against Yanukovych and his cronies.

What role can civil society perform? Civil parties should be allowed a role in criminal procedures under a grand corruption statute. In such legal systems anti-corruption NGOs can take part in criminal procedures and represent a broad range of victims.

In France, for example, the Transparency International chapter and the group Sherpa represented the victims of three African dictators.

It was announced last week that the son of Equatorial Guinea’s long-time president will go to trial in France almost a decade after the initial complaints were filed.

The younger Obiang is accused of siphoning off more than €200 million (US$225 million) of public money for personal purposes.

Unsurprisingly, he denies the allegations and nothing is being done about it in his home country where his father is firmly in control.

Finally, grand corruption is a major obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development. It undermines and distorts sound financial practice and clean business, both domestically and internationally.

It deepens poverty, inequality and it increases exclusion. Grand corruption also results in violations of human rights; a link recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Together with a group of top international legal experts including the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo, and Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, we worked on translating this understanding of grand corruption into a formulation viable in a legal context.

We developed a legal definition emphasizing that grand corruption occurs when bribery, embezzlement or other corruption offences occur.

Grand corruption used to carry on unseen, with little publicity. Today – thanks to new possibilities opened up by globalization, global communications and investigative reporting, the massive secrecy industry created by the enablers of grand corruption are in headlines every day. So too is the inability of current laws to tackle this transnational network of thievery and worse.

This needs to change. People have had enough. There should be no impunity for the corrupt.