Vanuatu Judge: Custom Payments Don’t Overrule Law

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Community and victim aspects of crime must be considered

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 7, 2014) – A Vanuatu Supreme Court judge says custom payment in a criminal case cannot overrule the law of the land.

Justice Daniel Fatiaki made the comment in an incest case in which he sentenced a church pastor to one year in prison suspended for three years.

The sentence was given despite the pastor having addressed a custom ceremony to say sorry for what he had done.

But Justice Fatiaki says often a custom ceremony addresses the community aspect of a crime to restore balance and order in the community, but it ignores the concerns of the victim who is the person most affected by the crime.

The judge says there are two aspects to every crime, a public order community element and an individual victim aspect.

He says both are affected by criminal behaviour and both must be corrected and atoned for.

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