Separation Of Mobile Force From Vanuatu Police Explored

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Police commissioner says distinct roles must be determined

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 12, 2014) – A study by a Special Task Force set up by the Government under its 100 Day Plan to separate the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) from the Vanuatu Police General Duty is being undertaken.

This was confirmed to Daily Post by the Government Parliamentary Secretary MP Silas Yatan.

He said it will take time for wider and deeper consultations to receive comprehensive views, opinions and recommendations that are vital and important for the government of the day to take into consideration before final decision is made through the Council of Ministers and the National Parliament. MP Yatan added that when the time is right, one of the considerations will be that the Police General Duty Operations will remain under the Ministry of Internal Affairs while the Vanuatu Mobile Force will come under the Prime Minister’s portfolio.

"The Special Task Force has been mandated to accommodate, wider and broader views of appropriate government and other related agencies in its undertakings to form the recommendations that will have to go to the Council of Ministers and eventually to the national parliament for final approval.

"This is the first time in the history of Vanuatu since 1980 that the present government is undertaking this initiative under its 100 Day policies," said MP Yatan.

Commenting on the government policy initiative to separate the VMF from the Vanuatu General Police Duty, the Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton, said deep considerations must be given to a lot of factors if and when the government finally decide to go ahead and adopt the policy of dividing the VMF from the General Police Duty.

"First and foremost the government must set up a ‘National Security Council’ under a ‘White Paper Policy’ to ensure clear and distinct roles of the two Forces. This is vital also because currently 40% of the operational costs of the running of the 680 members of the VMF and the General Police Duty are funded by the Australian and the New Zealand Government under the existing agreement. This included the fuel and maintenance costs of the RVS Tukoro, apart from the salaries and wages borne by the Vanuatu Government," Commissioner Caulton told Daily Post. He added that since the creation of the VMF in 1980 along with the General Policing Duties, successive governments have always found it difficult to maintain 100% costs of the running and operations of the VMF and the General Policing Duties.

"The Government must be able to pick the full costs of the running of the two law and order and security organizations especially the VMF if the separation is to go ahead because already 40% of the running costs of the operations, vehicle, fuel and maintenance of the RVS Tukoro are funded by Australia and New Zealand.

"The Government must also ensure that the General Duty Policing must be fully and properly funded and supported to effectively carry out the day to day law and order in the country and more of the duties being carried out by the Policing duties, "said Police Commissioner Caulton.

"The obligations and duties must be clear and to ensure this is effective it is vital that it is a must that the government establish a ‘National Security Council’ which will have an independent role to guide the General Police Duty and the VMF in their respective roles while serving the country in the respective roles they will each play from there onward. Because at the end of the day the government of the day will always be responsible for whatever questions that arises in line with the duties of both the General Police Duties and the VMF," said Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton.

"Deep considerations must be undertaken by the national government and the parliament once the Task Force completes its work and recommendations to go to the Council of Ministers and the parliament prior to the implementation of the idea which deals with the law and order and the security within the country. A National Security Council is a must for the government to bear in mind while moving on this proposal," said Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton.

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