Friday, May 19, 2006

NGO Social - Farewell to Andrew Stockwood

The Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO) and CUSO would like to invite you to attend an NGO Social on Thursday May 24 starting at 4.30pm at the Nambawan Cafe in Port Vila.

The aim of the NGO Social is to foster greater links and relationships between the NGO community and it is hoped this event will happen on a monthly basis, with different NGOs hosting the social as a fundraising event for their organizations.

To begin with however, VANGO has decided to host the first NGO social in order to bid farewell to Andrew Stockwood - a familiar face of the VANGO team who will be heading back to Canada in a few weeks time.
VANGO would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable assistance and support that Andrew has provided to the NGO sector in Vanuatu over the past few years and provide an opportunity to the NGO community to thank him for his efforts.

Kava and some light refreshments will be provided by CUSO and VANGO.

We hope that you will be able to join us.


Civil Society Legislation Workshop

Pacific Civil Society Law Programme
Laws and Legislation Affecting Community Organisations in Vanuatu
USP Law School conference room
Wednesday 24th May, 2006

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law is organising a one-day Roundtable on "Laws and Legislation Affecting Community Organizations in Vanuatu." The roundtable will be held in the conference facilities at the University of the South Pacific in Port Vila, on May 24, 2006, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

As part of the NZAID-funded Pacific Civil Society Law Programme, this roundtable presents an opportunity for a comprehensive look at the legal framework governing community organizations in Vanuatu. In particular, attention will be paid to its impact on the provision of essential social services desired by both the people and the government.

It is anticipated that government officials will have an opportunity to raise and discuss issues of mutual concern, and civil society leaders will be able to raise their own issues and comment on the matters raised in the government session as well. There will also be opportunities for looking forward strategically and exploring a process of engagement to bring about reforms of the legal framework to benefit all parties.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Launching of the Year of Sea Turtles

Invitation to Launching of the Year of Sea Turtles

Date: Friday, May 19, 2006
Time: 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Place: Saralana Stage, Port Vila

Wan Smolbag Theatre and the Vanua-Tai Resource Monitors Network would like to cordially invite you to the Vanuatu national launch event for the Year of the Sea Turtle (YOST). As you might know, 2006 has been declared the Year of the Sea Turtle in the Pacific by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). Since the last Year of the Sea Turtle in 1995 the Vanua-Tai network has made a significant impact in turtle conservation and now acts as a model for community based conservation in Melanesia.

Please join us in celebrating the past accomplishments of the Vanua-Tai and those yet to come.

Sincerely Yours,

George Petro
Vanua-Tai Resource Monitors
Tel (Bus): (678) 27119 / 27464
Tel (AH): (678) 24397
Facsimile: (678) 25308

Friday, May 12, 2006

Invitation to National Day Blong Ol Woman

Invitation from Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW)

Women around Port Vila will celebrate the National Women's Day on the
15th of May 2006. The Theme for that day is "WOMEN AND THE ECONOMY".

The highlights to this year's programme are the participation of
various Women's groups who will join in a parade from Fung Kuei to
Saralang Stage. Activities for the day are speeches, dances, string
band, dramas, skits, choirs. Food and refreshment will be available
from stalls on site.

The organizing committee of 15th May celebration 2006 would like to
invite you all to join the Parade at 8:00AM from Fung Kuei and the
official opening that will be held at the Saralang Stage.

VNCW is asking everyone to join the Mama's of Vanuatu on this special occasion.

We looking forward for your participation.

Thank you God Bless.

Jenny G LIGO
VNCW CEO for 15th May Committee celebration

Correctional Reform Bill Press Release

Transparency International Vanuatu
Press Release
May 9, 2006


The testimonies of Marc Neil-Jones on the human rights abuses inside the old French jail have now been confirmed by the recent incident of prisoners escape last May 5 after allegations of maltreatment by the police within the prison quarters.

In his opinion column published last April 14, 2006 in the Daily Post, a few days after he was released from detention on careless driving charge, Neil-Jones narrated the prisoners’ account that they were “repeatedly whipped with hosepipes” by the prison guards. Neil-Jones
described the prisoners as being “shackled together with chains and others shuffling about with leg irons chains.”

Neil-Jones eyewitness account was further substantiated through a letter that the escapees sent to Chief Paul Tahi, head of Malvatumauri, a day after they escaped the prison. The escapees claim that they were subjected to a brutal treatment by the police chaining them together for months with leg irons chains.

While the government is now preparing for the passing of the correctional reform bills, a common question now runs in the minds of the people of Vanuatu: Will these new correctional reform bills finally resolve the deep-seated problems in the Vanuatu prisons now?

Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, President of the Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV), says that although the new bills protect the rights of prisoners to a certain extent, it does not adequately ensure that prisoners are kept in safe conditions and that minimum international standards for prisoners’ and prison conditions are met.

Malvatumauri should be congratulated for taking the prisoners’ letter seriously and for bringing it to the government’s immediate attention. “The government should conduct an investigation on the alleged maltreatment of the prisoners and ensure that the prison officers liable are held accountable,” Patterson said. “It is the duty of all prison officers to treat prisoners with humanity and impartiality. All prison officers should be complying with the international minimum standards of treatment of prisoners.” It is also the role of the Ombudsman to look into this matter of maladministration and abuse of human rights following a complaint or of his own initiative, as the prisoners do not have any normal recourse

Though the new legislative framework for the Vanuatu Government’s Correctional Reforms has included amendments of the old Prison (Administration) Act which are now in line with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United Nations in 1955, TIV believes that the current Ombudsman should take action on the increasing complaints from the prisoners on how their rights were violated. Otherwise, the prisoners will have no one to turn to except to take the law into their own hands as what happened with the recent incident at the old jail.

The escapees also state in their letter to Chief Tahi that they were chained together by their legs and “when one has to go to the toilet, one has to drag the other to the toilet.”

The new correctional reform bills now state that restraint of a detainee is only necessary to prevent from injuring himself or herself or any other person and to prevent the escape during a movement to and from the correctional centre. (Sec. 22, 1-3)

This follows the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which states that “instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and strait-jacket, shall never be applied as a punishment (Sec 33a).”

The escapees also mentioned in their letter to Chief Tahi that they were not given any access to telephone, no access to a doctor when they are sick, no access to lawyer and no visitation rights.

Section 10 (2i to 2l) of the new correctional reform bill seeks to repeal the old Prison Act which does not allow prisoners access to communication and visitation without the permission of the Superintendent and if violated a fine up to VT 15,000 may be imposed. Visitation rights are recognized internationally as a right of prisoner, but for several years, Vanuatu penalizes anyone that tries to exercise their basic human rights.

Though this Bill is now in accordance with UN Conventions on the treatment of prisoners and international best practice, TIV is calling for the new set of officers of the Correctional Services to abide by the United Nations International Minimum Standards for Prisoners. “This will ensure the safety and wellbeing of the prisoners,” said Patterson. “Counselling of the prison guards is absolutely necessary and if it does not achieve its purpose, discipline must be imposed on the prison staff.

Further more to resolve the immediate problems, why has this matter not been stopped by the Acting Commissioner of Police since the public complaint of the journalist from Daily Post last month? Can the Acting Police Commissioner answer to the public?

For further information, please contact:

Transparency International Vanuatu
P.O. Box 355
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Tel: (678) 25715
Fax: (678) 25716

Thursday, May 11, 2006

DPA Annual General Meeting

Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association
Press Release
Port Vila, May 7, 2006

The Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association (DPA) will be holding its 2006 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 8 June 2006 on the island of Motalava in the TORBA Province, Vanuatu. The meeting will bring together 28 delegates from five of the six provinces of Vanuatu. The AGM will be proceeded by a Pre-AGM Workshop.

Also in attendance will be the members of the Coordinating Committee who are elected every two years. The current members were elected at the 2005 Annual General Meeting and consist of the following:

John Suran/Chair/Physical/SHEFA
Nelly Caleb/Vice-Chair/50% vision/SANMA
L. Solomon/Treasurer/Multiple limb deficit/SHEFA
Roger Whitley/Secretary/CP/SHEFA
Leisel Sope/Member/Deaf/SHEFA
John Wotleleng/Member/Visual/TORBA
Dorian Naliupis/Member/Caregiver Rep/SANMA

The Head of State of Vanuatu, HE President Kalkot Matas Kelekele has been invited to attend as well as the Hon Minister Isabelle Donald, Minister for Justice and Social Welfare.

The agenda for both the pre-AGM Workshop and the AGM itself are attached.

If any friends would like to send any messages to DPA to be announced, we would be honoured to read that message during the AGM.

Thank you and God be with you all

Andonia Piau-Lynch
DPA National Coordinator

VIT Tracer Study

The Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO) is currently carrying out a survey of
students who went through the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (formerly
INTV)and who graduated from the institution in either 2004 or 2005. The
objective of this survey is to find out the current status of these former
students which will then be used to assess the impact of VIT on those
concerned. Results will help shape future programs offered at the school.

As part of this process, VANGO is organizing for VIT or INTV students who graduated in 2004 and 2005 to attend a gathering at Dumbea Hall on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. There will be 5 facilitators who will be responsible for assisting former students respond to various questions. The sessions will start at 9AM and end at 4.30PM. Each interview/discussion will last at least 30 minutes.

For further information, please contact the VANGO office.