Public report on (1) Failing to hold a competent disciplinary hearing for former foreign affairs director Mr. Jean Sese and (2) appointing Mr. Sese Director- General of the Prime Ministerís Office with disciplinary action outstanding Ė July 9, 1998 - Emalus Campus
Mr Sese, as Director of Foreign Affairs was involved in the issue of diplomatic and official passports to a number of foreigners. Two Public Reports of the Ombudsman (December 3, 1997 and March 13, 1998) deal with this. Both reports contained recommendations that the Public Service Commission commence disciplinary proceedings in relation to Mr. Seseís involvement with the issuance of the passports.
Following the issuance of the December 3, 1997 report, the Public Service Commission accepted the recommendation of the Ombudsman and suspended Mr. Sese on December 23, 1997 pending disciplinary proceedings. On February 5, 1998, the Public Service Disciplinary Board held a hearing and found the charge against Mr. Sese proved. On February 18, Mr. Sese appealed the decision. On March 17, 1998, the Attorney General recommended that the disciplinary decision against Mr. Sese be quashed for procedural irregularities and that a new disciplinary proceeding be commenced in the proper way. The decision was accordingly quashed. However, no new proceedings were initiated.
Between the time that disciplinary proceedings were commenced and the quashing of the decision, Mr. Sese applied for the position of Director General in the Prime Ministerís Office. Initially, the application was deferred pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing but on March 31, 1998, he was appointed, and, despite the minutes of the Public Service Commission meeting which stated that his appointment was deferred, he began working at his new post. Some uncertainty existed over why the appointment was proceeded with and who was responsible for it being made. There was a suggestion of wantokism at work. The Ombudsman expressed concern over transparency and the potential for prejudice on the part of the Public Service Board.
The Ombudsman concluded that the Public Service Commissionís supervisory role was defective in that it failed to ensure that the Disciplinary Board was provided with legal advice. The failure to proceed with the disciplinary case and the appointment of Mr. Sese was blatantly unreasonable. Moreover it amounted to unjustness to other potential applicants. The process for keeping minutes by the Public Service Board was defective.
∑ That the Public Service Committee convene a Disciplinary Board to hear the case of Mr. Sese.
∑ That in future, the Public Service Commission defer the appointment of a candidate who is facing disciplinary hearing until after the completion of the hearing.
∑ That the Public Service Commission consider having shorthand notes taken in order to record full minutes of its proceedings.
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