Public report on the improper appointment of male nurse Peter Yunak - June 11, 1998 - Emalus Campus
Mr. Peter Yunak was hired as a male nurse in the Department of Health in 1984. On November 27, 1989, he was convicted of the rape of a female patient while on duty at the Vila Central Hospital. After an unsuccessful appeal, he began to serve a 4 year term of imprisonment in November 1990. During his imprisonment for rape, Mr. Yunak was also charged and convicted of unlawful escape.
The Minister responsible for prisons, Mr. Nako, a first cousin of Mr. Yunak, released Mr. Yunak (together with all other prisoners) on license on December 25, 1991 after he had served 13 months of his imprisonment. The condition of Mr. Yunak’s release was that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of 2 years.
On December 10, 1993, Mr. Nako who was then the Minister of Health and Acting Prime Minister appointed Mr. Yanuk on a temporary basis as a nurse at Vila Central Hospital. His temporary status was continuing at the time of the Ombudsman’s inquiry into this matter. During his temporary appointment, Mr. Yunak was transferred a number of times by the Director of Health, Mr. Niowenmal (contrary to the Public Service Staff Manual), lastly to a Fanafo Dispensary on Santo where he practiced alone and without supervision. Further, he was sent to Port Vila for training in matters of sexual health in the community.
When contacted by the Ombudsman in February 1998, Mr. Wabaiat, the Director of Health indicated that he would be taking action to remedy the situation. However, no action was taken by the time the Ombudsman’s report was made final.
The Ombudsman found that the conditions of release granted by Mr. Nako were unlawful in that they did not comply with the provisions of the Prisons (Administration) Act which only provides for release for the unexpired portion of a term of imprisonment and not for a term of 2 years as granted. In relation to the same issue, the Ombudsman found that the administrative practice and perhaps the legislation governing the release of prisoners on license was arbitrary and confused.
The hiring of Mr Yunak in 1993 was contrary to the Constitution which provides for temporary appointment for a specified period and only in exceptional circumstances. Further, Mr. Yunak’s conviction for escape should have barred him from public service for a period of 4 years according to the Public Service Staff Manual. Mr. Nako, as Acting Prime Minister, in releasing his cousin breached the Leadership Code by placing himself in a conflict of interest, bringing his integrity into question and endangering respect for the integrity of the Government.
Mr. Niowenmal, Director of Health failed to prevent Mr. Yunak from seeing female patients on his own and thereby placed women at risk.
· That the Public Service Commission review the validity of Mr. Yunak’s appointment.
· That the Public Service Commission recruit and appoint a person for Mr. Yunak’s position in accordance with procedures in the Public Service Staff Manual.
· That Mr. Yunak be restricted from examining female patients on his own.
· That if Mr. Wabaiat delays further in taking steps to deal with Mr. Yunak’s employment status, a disciplinary hearing be convened over his delay in doing so.
· That internal policy stipulate that male health practitioners not conduct intimate examinations of female patients without a third party being present.
· That public written criteria and procedures be developed for the release on suspension of prisoners.
· That sex offenders be given counseling and treatment to assist in rehabilitation.
· That the Public Service Commission consider the Ombudsman’s report in the event of an application for a position by Mr. Niowenmal or Mr. Nako.
· That Mr. Nako not be reappointed to the Council of Ministers.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj