Right  To Information Law Awareness On Tanna Island 

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU  (TIV) Officers have met with the Secretary General of TAFEA Province to inform him of TIV’s Community Awareness Program on the island of Tanna this week (20th to the 24th).

TAFEA Provincial Headquarters

In 2016 TIV Officers conducted extensive community consultations throughout the island of Tanna on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill. Immediately after the RTI Bill was passed by Parliament in December 2016 preparations for another round of community awarenesses was planned to inform the people on the implementation phases of the RTI LAW.

On Tuesday the 21st of March the TIV officers currently on the island will visit Bethel community before moving on the villages of Lamnatu, Kwaramanu, and Manuapen.

On Wednesday the 22nd an awareness will be held at the Lenakel Market House before the team will move out again to visit several more villages.

Lenakel Market House

Transparency Team Tours Tanna Island

LAST WEEK A TEAM from Transparency International Vanuatu run a series of Right To Information (RTI) public awareness programs on the island of Tanna.

The TIV Team landed on Tanna on the 21st of February and stayed over at Lenakel for two days before traveling to Imaki Village on south Tanna to conduct the RTI awareness there. The TIV team then moved eastward through to the central part of Tanna holding several meetings with communities on the Right To Information along the way.

Hundreds of Vanuatu Constitution books were also delivered to several communities and schools throughout this week on the island of Tanna.

The TIV Team also visited Lenakel Presbyterian College, Tafea College and Imaki College and delivered constitution books, rights and duties booklets including corruption booklets. On Monday the team blasted RTI information from speakers at the Lenakel Market House before ending the day successfully at Bethel Village.

Tuesday the 23rd of February was meant to be a busy day, unfortunately cyclone warnings kept the team at base at Lenakel. Heavy rains and strong winds were experienced throughout Tanna on that day, however by late evening a brief peek of sunshine promised a better weather for Wednesday.

The road to the south was a rough ride, as was explained by people at Lenakel. The team left at 9 o’clock in the morning and arrived there at around midday. Again, the team talked to villagers and students about the right to information, and how much benefit it would bring if the right to know is specifically made a law in Vanuatu.

At Lenakel Presbyterian College over 40 students and teachers attended the right to information public awareness on the island of Tanna. And while the rain poured lightly outside Mr. Douglas Tamara from the TIV Team talked about the national anthem and the meaning of ‘Yumi’. Eventually, the students began to sing the national anthem, and they sang it perfectly.

The awareness at Lenakel College took place inside the schools dining hall. Outside, the remains of the wrath of TC Pam is still visible. A UNICEF white tent still accommodates for classes and the dining hall is still divided in two; eat on one side and have classes on the other.

On the other side of the school compound a blue tarpaulin is used to replace the roofs that had been blown off a classroom building. Regardless of this, normal classes proceed as usual for roughly two hundred students. “That number is expected to increase,” explains the Deputy Principal, “once school fee problems are sorted out we will be expecting over four hundred students.”

After the meeting the staff at the school thanked the team for the information shared, including having their own copies of the Vanuatu Constitution which will be made available to students at schools library.

This is the second tour for the TIV Team for the RTI mission, the first tour took the team to the island of Santo. The next tour will be known once plans and logistics are confirmed.

Transparency International Vanuatu believes that everyone has the right to be informed, equipping citizens with the necessary information will not only allow citizens to participate effectively, but it will also give them the opportunity to be the builders of a nation.

The right to information originates as a national fundamental right, and is expressed in Vanuatu’s National Constitution under article five. At the moment there is no RTI Law that will give legal effect to this fundamental right however preparations have already been made and an RTI policy was launched in 2014, and until it becomes law TIV will continue to advocate for the RTI in Vanuatu.

The RTI is important because it is a symbol of an open democracy and a key to governance. The RTI promotes transparency and accountability in the public sector. It supports and protects human rights and it strengthens the foundations of democracy, and most importantly it fights against corruption.

Photos of the RTI tour on Tanna will be published on Transparency’s facebook page and blogsite (www.tivnews.wordpress) once the team returns to Port Vila on this coming Sunday.

For more information on the RTI, or any other matters surround the works of Transparency International Vanuatu please contact us at Tel: 25715, or email: transparency@vanuatu.com.vu