What is Corruption?

It is a term that describes the decay of integrity, virtue or moral principles. According to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), Corruption is a serious crime that hinders socio and economic development as well as weakens education and health systems , depriving people of the basic building blocks of a decent life. In the case of Borough Limerick (1869) O’Malley & Hardcastle 260, Mr. Baron Fitzgerald said:

The World Bank defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. In the Vanuatu Supreme Court case Public Prosecutor vs Kalosil and others no. 73 of 2015, the presiding Judge referred to several cases to define the word corruption and or corruptly. In the case of Borough Limerick (1869) O’Malley & Hardcastle 260, Mr. Baron Fitzgerald said:

  1. The whole proof or corruption as it appears to me, consists in showing that the forbidden act is done for a purpose not innocent according to the Act of Parliament. In his decision in the County of Norfolk (Northern District case, Colman v Walpole and Lacon (1869) His Lordship Blackburn J explained the meaning or corruptly in this way: It does not mean corrupt in the sense that you may look upon a man as a knave or a villain, but that it is to be shown that he was meaning to do that thing which the statute forbids. The Court in Gallagher at VR288 affirmed the ruling of Brooking J in R v Dillion [1982] VR 434 as follows: “an agent does act corruptly if he receives a benefit in the belief that the giver intends that it shall influence him to show favour in relation to the principal’s affairs. If he accepts a benefit which he believes is being given to him because the donor hopes for an act of favouritism in return, even though he does not intend to perform that act, he is, by the mere act of receiving the benefit with his belief as to the intention with which it is given, knowingly encouraging the donor in the act of bribery or attempted bribery, knowing profiting from his position of agent by reason of his supposed ability and willingness, in return for some reward, to show favouritism in his principal’s affairs and knowingly putting himself in a position of temptation as regards the impartial discharge of his duties in consequence of the acceptance of a benefit” In the Fiji Independent Commision Against Corruption v Devo [2010] In which the accused was charged with official corruption, Judge Daniel Goundar said: The focus on this case may, and it is a matter for you, end up on your assessment of the word corruptly means. I am not going to explain that to you except to say that it does not mean dishonesty. It is a different word. It means purposefully doing an act which the law forbids.

Corruption occurs when an individual knowingly departs from the original or from what is pure or correct and/ or an inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means.

It is a generic concept that encompasses a wide range of offences under the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu, the Penal Code [CAP 135], the Leadership Code Act [CAP 240] and other related legislation in Vanuatu.

It is a crime that is harder to detect and investigate because it is usually done in secret and aided and abetted by people who collude to gain through dishonest practices. Corruption thrives in secrecy when good men do nothing to report the acts or corruption that they may have seen, heard or been a victim of.

Corruption is a white collar crime committed by individuals who know how to manipulate the system and people in positions of authority in Vanuatu eg, The Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Director Generals, Directors, CEO of Statutory Bodies and State owned enterprises, Board members of Statutory Bodies and State owned Enterprises and others as defined by section 5 of the Leadership Code Act. It can also be found at lower levels or Government Organizations where proper procedures and policies are not adhered too and where management does not have regular proper monitoring systems.

Corruption can cost Vanuatu millions of vatu each year that could be directed to better infrastructure, healthcare, and education of our young citizens.

Speak out against corruption and report acts or bribery and corruption today.

How do I Lodge a Complaint?

When you visit the Ombudsman Office in Port Vila or Luganville, the receptionist will assist you with your needs. The receptionist will provide you’re with a complaint form in the language you prefer and will assist you in filling up the complaint form.

If time does not permit you to visit us in person, then you may send us correspondence through an email, or write us a letter detailing the nature of your complaint.

Complaints care also received by way of audit reports or special investigation reports or referrals from other Government Departments.

What Process will be followed to resolve my Complaint?

When complaints are received, there are certain procedures that must be followed before investigation proper can commence on your complaint.

Once a complaint is being approved by the Ombudsman to commence investigation, the complaint is then allocated to one to the three teams in the Ombudsman Office to deal with it. If the complaint has the nature of maladministration, it will be dealt with the Maladministration section of the Office. If the complaint is against any persons classified as a Leader, it will be dealt with by the Leadership Code section of the Office. Any issues or complaints in the use of our three official languages will be dealt with by the Senior Language Rights Officer of the Office.

Complaints are sometimes referred to local law enforcement agencies to deal with or to other agencies if they have the jurisdiction to deal with such complaints. Upon the completion of investigations findings will be made and your will be advised on the findings of your complaint.

This process is put in place to ensure that each complaint received by the Office of the Ombudsman is handled efficiently and professionally and that a solution is found. The process will also help to ensure that supporting evidence in any complaints that require prosecution is handled accordingly for the purpose of prosecution.

Who is a Whistleblower and how are they protected?

A whistle blower is a person who raises the alarm of a wrong doing in an organization. The whistle blower is usually from the same organization and reports a breach of law, policy or codes of conduct to a law enforcement agency or their superiors.

The term originates from the practice of English Police Officers in the old days that would alert the public to danger nearby by blowing a whistle. The sound of the whistle would alert other law enforcement agencies and citizens within the vicinity.

It is normal to fear lodging a report against a coworker or friend however if you lodge a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, your identity will remain confidential and you are protected under Division 2 of the Ombudsman Act [CAP.252]

Can I remain anonymous when lodging a complaint?

Although we would prefer complainants to give us detailed information to better assist our investigations, we do accept anonymous complaints and treat it with the same priority as any other complaint lodged.

People conceal their identity for dear or victimization but rest assured that we treat each case with confidentiality and provide protection under the Ombudsman Act for people providing us with information

Are there any Awareness Programs for my Organization or myself?

Although we would prefer complaints to give us detailed information to better assist our investigations, we do accept anonymous complaints and treat it with the same priority as any other complaint lodged.

The Office of the Ombudsman under its annual business plan is obligated to carry out awareness programs about corruption and the purpose of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman can conduct awareness visits to schools, private companies, government departments, provincial councils, municipality councils or a daily basis. The Office can also provide your or your organization with awareness materials to assist you in understanding our work better.

If you would like a session tailored for your organization, please feel free to contact the Office of the Ombudsman for more information.