The Head of State, President Bauldwin Lonsdale, has called on the Government to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman of Vanuatu to give it adequate powers to implement the Leadership Code Act. He says that since the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman the country has benefited immensely from information and exposures of the “corrupt practices of our leaders.”
“Whilst the office is viewed as the watchdog on corrupt dealings of the leaders, to both the public and the private sector, the Office of the Ombudsman does not have the powers to take the corrupt practices of leaders beyond investigation and documenting them,” President Lonsdale adds. “The Office of the Ombudsman was established through an Act of Parliament to institute and provide oversight on the implementation of the Leadership Code Act, to ensure that national leaders perform their functions in a way that is good.”
The Head of State made the call last week at the opening of the First Ordinary Session of the Parliament. “Since we are talking about the need for changes, I am calling on this Government to take up this challenge and strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman and the Leadership Code Act to ensure the effectiveness of both the office and the law,” he says.
“The Government spends a lot of money recruiting and employing an Ombudsman and his staff, but many times much of their investigations are considered on documents as just for viewing.
“Given the past experiences seen of leaders who abused their powers, I am calling on this Government to empower the Ombudsman Act to enable the Ombudsman to be able to pass his reports to the Office of the Public Prosecutor to prosecute offenders for malpractices identified in investigations.”
President Lonsdale adds that if the Office can do this then it will be fulfilling its role as the watchdog of the country.