TIV Embarks on Public Awareness Tour

TIV Chief Executive Officer Dr Willie Tokon (left) stands behind Civic Education Officer, Douglas Tamara, on all his trips throughout the country.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) Civic Education Officer, Douglas Tamara, is set to start this year’s annual TIV programme with at least two days of public awareness tour to Epi Island in SHEFA Province from July 12.

He is scheduled to return to Port Vila on July 14, before flying North to Torres Group of Islands in TORBA Province on July 24 and returning to Port Vila on July 31.

Tamara says the main focus on both trips is to talk about corruption and its effects on development in the society, the contents of the Vanuatu National Constitution and what “our rights and values are and how they affect our lives”.

“In fact, while separately doing community awareness, TIV and the Right To Information (RTI) Team, which comprises RTI Manager, Harold Obed and Publications Officer Kevin Henry, will all stress the importance for voters to urge their Members of Parliament (MPs) to push for the appointment of the RTI Information Commissioner by the Minister of Justice.”

It is the responsibility of the Commissioner to implement and enforce the RTI Act. The RTI Commissioner will be responsible for the dissemination of relevant information to information-hungry members of the public who need information before making decisions about their lives.

With assistance from the Provincial Area Administrator, Tamara says he is confident of covering all islands in the Torres Group in one week before returning to Port Vila on July 31.

Asked what the main focus on both trips is, Tamara says it will be on the contents of Corruption, Human Rights and the Vanuatu National Constitution. “For instance, we are aware that currently an increasing number of issues are experienced by our seasonal workers in both Australia and New Zealand, due to inter marriages and cultural differences as well as foreign influences that creep in,” Tamara said.

“But we need to be reminded of our rights and duties that are highlighted in our National Constitution, which are there to help us live in a society that is respectful of others and enjoyable for everyone.”

The Civic Education Officer said while everyone has his and her rights, it is important to note that Rights come with responsibilities and we must recognise that every right has its limit in which it is enjoyed.

However, the moment that right is used outside its limit by using obscene language or defaming someone then it breaches this right to freedom of expression as this freedom does not allow anyone to swear at someone or say something false about another person.

In addition, the current trend of increasing number of suicides in the country, is going to be raised with young people and school students on the tour. Tamara said one important part of those rights is an individual’s right to life.

“Young people and school students must be told that taking your own life is not a solution to an issue, but rather, it is adding a problem on top of an existing one,” he said.

“Instead, if you feel that you have an urgent problem that is complicating your way of life; talk to your leader in your community like your chief, pastor, teacher or any individual who stands out in his or her capacity to help you.

“But please do not cut short your life by committing suicide because that is not the solution!”

In addition, Tamara calls on all responsible leaders to make themselves available to their young people saying perhaps past victims took their own life because there was no one to talk to them when they needed advice most.

To conclude, Tamara says that TIV’s past and present programmes throughout the archipelago would not be possible without the generous assistance of its partners especially the Pacific Community (SPC) and Provincial Government leaders.