Vanuatu Chief Sent To Jail For Contempt After Wearing Traditional Attire In Court

Pentecost group insists traditional dress is respectful 

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 20, 2016) – Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua from Pentecost and his group were sent to jail Tuesday reportedly for contempt of court after appearing in custom attire in the Supreme Court in front of presiding judge, Justice David Chetwynd.

Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, Public Relations Officer of Guinguinvanua Custom Government of Turaga at Lovatmagemu, East Pentecost said that Chief Viraleo and his group were summoned to appear in court for plea on Tuesday for the first time in 10 months following their arrest on Pentecost on December 15, 2015 and flown to Port Vila.

“Without referring to any written dress code, Justice David Chetwynd declared their appearance in custom attire as “Contempt of Court” and gave them 10 minutes to decide to change into western/eastern clothes before proceeding or be sent to prison.

“He stated that it is rude and disrespectful to appear in his court in traditional attire and that they should wear modern clothes to deserve his respect,” Motarilavoa Hilda Lini says. Chief Boborenvanua opted to go to jail in defense of Vanuatu indigenous identity and in respect to the Vanuatu National Emblem which is the official seal of the independent sovereign state of Vanuatu, Ms Lini said.

“When questioned why they were dressed in custom attire, Chief Viraleo who has appeared in traditional attire all over the world including at the United Nations responded; “This is our traditional attire and identity just as you have your normal dress.

“Dressing in full custom attire is more respectful to honour special occasions.

“We regard our plea in court today as an important occasion.

“When Justice Chetwynd stated that his court is not a Nakamal where he can appear in custom attire, Chief Viraleo questioned the judge why they have been brought to modern court instead of hearing the case at the Nakamal.”

He referred specifically to the paramount chief dressed in traditional attire on Vanuatu’s National Emblem.

On further questioning, Chief Boborenvanua reportedly stated that from his understanding both laws are operational in court systems of Vanuatu, but if custom dress is not acceptable in modern court then custom citizens should be brought before a separate court system that respects their constitutional freedom of conscience and expression in their indigenous attires.

Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua is claimed to be an indigenous researcher, inventor, developer and programmer; indigenous scientist; philosopher and reader of indigenous alphabets and writing; founder of custom banking and destiny reserve systems; co-founder of the Melanesian-Global Institute of Science, Philosophy, Humanity and Technology; philosopher in custom law, truth, justice and peace; professor of peace economy; and leader of Guiguinvanua Kastom Kavman.

The group will reappear before Justice David Chetwynd this morning at 9 o’clock.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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