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:

Second Ordinary Sitting, 21 November:

  • Bill for the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
  • Bill for the Commercial Government Business Enterprise Act
  • Bill for the Right to Information Act
  • Bill for the Utilities Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Act
  • Bill for the Penal Code (Amendment) Act
  • Bill for the Immigration (Amendment) Act
  • Bill for the Referendum (Amendment) Act
  • Bill for the Quarry (Amendment) Act
  • Bill for the Citizenship Amendment Act
  • Bill for the Bureau of Standards Act
  • Bill for the Convention on the Conservation of Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the Northern Ocean (Ratification) Act

Special sitting 12 December

  • Bill for the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act

We will have more information after the weekend.