Four Years After Announcement, No Funding For Vanuatu Hall Of Justice

Plans for $37 million modern Court House stalled; no donor identified

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 2, 2017) – Four years after its announcement, the plan to build a Vt4 billion [US$37 milllion] modern Court House is still on hold after the committee tasked for its implementation has not secured a suitable donor for the new Hall of Justice.

Since then every year during the opening of the courts for a judicial year, Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek never fails to remind the Government about the need to implement the plan.

This year the Hall of Justice tops the list of the needs of the judiciary and steps to take in 2017.

“The Hall of Justice building has been pending since the fire destruction in 2007,” Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek said during the opening of the 2017 judicial year.

“The Government has the responsibility to do something about the Hall of Justice building,” he added.

When Daily Post inquired about the progress of the project, information from the Ministry of Justice shows that despite the effort of the committee responsible, little or nothing has been achieved so far.

“So far no donor has indicated interest to fund the building, the committee is still looking for funds,” said Acting Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Pacco Siri who is also Chairman of the Hall of Justice Committee.

The committee is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Prime Minister’s Office and the judiciary.

He added that some donor partners hesitated to fund the project because of its high cost.

“It is the view of some donors that the building is too big and why built a huge mansion in Port Vila while the rest of the country especially the provinces have no proper court houses?” said the Acting DG. The Hall of Justice plan is designed to include both traditional and modern touches with three fundamental goals.

Firstly to provide to the people of Vanuatu a Hall of Justice that symbolises the supremacy of the Rule of Law.

Secondly to house the judicial and administrative Headquarters of the Judiciary which is one of the three arms of governance.

Thirdly to enhance the judicial services to the people not only in Port Vila but also in other urban centres and the six provinces of the country.

The design of the building will cater for the following:

  • Respect for the land and vegetation
  • Social structure and customs and fundamental values of the communities
  • Self-Administered Justice System
  • Island Courts to International Courts
  • Commercial Trials and Appeals
  • Customary views of justices and influences of condominium period
  • Build for 50 to 100 years
  • One-stop Court Complex
  • Technologically capable
  • Environmentally responsible
  • Adaptable to change
  • Respect for human rights
  • Maximum use of local materials
  • Allow for space for air movements in and around building
  • Allow for outdoor spaces as organising device for court house
  • Reflect traditional patterns of arrival, waiting and entry to places.

Asked if the long delay and lack of funding may result in changing the plan of the building to reduce the cost, Mr Siri said that is a call that rests entirely on the decision of the Chief Justice himself.

But he said the committee will further meet and continue to look for interested donors to fund the long awaited project.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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