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Vanuatu Parliament endorse Right To Information Bill

Vanuatu’s Parliament has today unanimously passed the Right To Information (RTI) Bill of 2016 tabled by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai.

Initial reports from Port Vila say the most of the Members of Parliament spoke in favour of the RTI Bill including the Opposition.

The Minister for Land and Member of Parliament for Port Vila, Ralph Regenvanu supported RTI Bill saying it was in the interest of society, the people and government.

Member of Parliament for Santo, Alfred Maoh said he was in favour of RTI because he will rely on it when he returns to the village.

“I am supporting this Bill today because I see myself back in the village in the next ten years and I know this Bill will help me to have access to information from government, said MP Maoh.

Opposition Member of Parliament from Banks and Torres Christopher Emelee assured Parliament of his group’s support when the debate started.

However, the former minister for agriculture cautioned government to ensure good management of the way media uses information acquired under the law.

A report from Transparency International Vanuatu (TVI) revealed that during its community awareness consultation on the RTI Bill on the island of Erromango in early November, 51 percent of the population was reached. TVI spoke for 990 people who agreed that their MPs in Parliament must support the RTI Bill.

“At the end of each consultation sessions each community what they would want their Member of Parliament (MP) to do when the RTI Bill was tabled in Parliament and a hundred percent (100%) of them agreed that their MP must vote in favor of the RTI Bill because that is what they want, said TVI.

The response was similar in all the islands that TVI visited to conduct the RTI Bill community consultations - Vanualava, Malekula, Santo, Ambrym, Pentecost, Ambae, Tanna, Efate Offshore Islands, and several more.

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