Suspension of 22 MPs Unconstitutional: Court

The decision to suspend the entire opposition bloc for two sittings of parliament in the First Ordinary Session of Parliament in 2020, was declared unconstitutional during an Appeal Court ruling yesterday.

A total of 29 Members of Parliament voted for the motion to suspend the 22 Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) after the opposition bloc boycotted the first sitting of the First Ordinary Session in June last year.

The Opposition MPs said their constitutional rights has been breached. But the Supreme Court ruled that their suspension was legal. The Opposition bloc further appealed the Supreme Court decision and the appeal was allowed.

“We declare that in passing Motion 6 (later Motion 1) and thereby suspending the whole of the Opposition for 2 sitting days of the Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu breached Articles 1,2 and 4 of the Constitution," Chief Justice Lunabek said on behalf of the jury.

“At the same time, the appellants' guaranteed constitutional rights under Articles 5 (d), (g), (k) and 27 (1) of the Constitution were also breached."

Speaking with Media yesterday after the court decision, Leader of Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu said they are satisfied with the ruling.

“We appealed the Supreme Court decision simply because it would set, we believe, a really bad precedent if a simple majority of MPs could suspend an entire Opposition as they wanted for no reason," the Opposition Leader said.

He added that the Opposition would not be expecting any remedy. “We just wanted to make sure that the right precedent would be set for the future. We now know that that cannot happen again and we are very happy about it."

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