The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) says it is pleased to learn that Vanuatu’s proposed Right To Information (RTI) is now ready to go before Parliament for debate this week.
The Second Extra Ordinary Session of Parliament begins today.
In a statement released from Suva, the regional media body based in Fiji congratulated Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and his cabinet for their determination to bring this important legislation to the House of Parliament.
“PINA hopes the Bill will have unanimous support of members of Vanuatu’s Parliament,” said PINA President, Mr Moses Stevens.
PINA acknowledges the persistent engagement of the Media Asosiesen blong Vanuatu (MAV) and their collaborative partnership with the office of the Prime Minister, Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV), VANGO and other stakeholders in the formulation of the RTI Bill.
“We congratulate Vanuatu and encourage other regional governments, civil society organisations and stakeholders to work with their national media associations (NMAs) in developing their own RTI bill.
“PINA believes such an engagement would enhance proper management of information from the government side, which in effect would allow people, and the media to have access to relevant and appropriate information.
“Having such a law is vital in a government that believes in transparency and accountability, which are the main components of good governance”.
PINA notes that MAV is one of the remaining national media associations in the Pacific that has remained active and strong, maintaining PINA’s vision of a strong national media association defending and promoting the rights of its members and giving voice to its citizens.
“Despite the political instability and the many changes of governments in Vanuatu in recent years, MAV has maintained its core objectives, one of which was the RTI Bill. MAV leaders have continued to engage with successive prime ministers, while maintaining their partnership with other CSOs and stakeholders on the RTI issue, said Mr Stevens.
PINA also acknowledged the staff members of the Prime Minister’s Office who have worked with MAV and other CSO leaders to bring this Bill to fruition. PINA also recognises the role of Transparency International Vanuatu in its tireless effort to spearhead consultation, awareness and advocacy efforts throughout Vanuatu.
PINA would like to encourage its members to re-build their NMAs and work in partnership with their governments and other stakeholders in developing their own RTI legislation and other mechanisms that would enhance free media environment, and equally important the people’s “right to know” and the right to access or acquire information that they are entitled to.