Constitutional case filed against Vanuatu President


A constitutional case over the recent pardoning of three former Prime Ministers of Vanuatu, Rialuth Serge Vohor, Joe Natuman and Charlot Salwai, has been filed against President Obed Moses Tallis.

Daily Post was informed by a reliable source that the Ombudsman filed the case to challenge the legality and rational of the pardoning.

Article 38 of the Constitution which provides for the ‘Presidential powers of pardon, commutation and reduction of sentences’ states: “The President of the Republic may pardon, commute or reduce a sentence imposed on a person convicted of an offence. Parliament may provide for a committee to advise the President in the exercise of this function.”

It is argued the Constitution has no provisions for the Head of State to pardon convictions, only sentences.

Natuman and Salwai were convicted during their reigns as PMs in two separate legislatures. Vohor, on the other hand, was sent to jail when he was Member of Parliament for Santo Rural constituency.

Meanwhile, to mark and celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the signing of the National Constitution of Vanuatu, Head of State Obed Moses Tallis acknowledged that this celebration is more than a book or a document, but the need to know everything within the Constitution and upholding it.

“Our celebration is a show of gratitude to our forefathers and the leaders who were inspired by our statelessness and shared the vison of a Constitution, making it a reality,” he said in his official address Tuesday.

“We have to bear in mind that if we do not know or understand the Constitution, we cannot observe it.”

The President emphasised on the need for all citizens of Vanuatu to better understand and grasp the Constitution, as he quoted the Scripture from 1 Samuel:15-22, “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.”

The President referred to the rule of law as a concept, and the Constitution as a guideline for good governance.

He said, “To me, the rule of law is characterised by four features. The first, key institutions of the country are effective, incorruptible and impartial. Secondly, there has to be a culture of rights that is respected, effective and enforced, thirdly, Government policies and bills are consistent with the Constitution, and lastly the legal system is established in fairness.”

He added, “The rule of law is essential to our country and that is why it is embedded in our Constitution.”

Two of the signatories of the Constitution were decorated with medals, former Prime Minister, Joe Natuman and George Pakoa Tarimanu, in recognition of their contributions.