(From L-R): Honourable Jean Pierre Nirua, Minister for Education and Training, Honourable Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council and Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President during the cheque handover.
The Government of Vanuatu has made its first instalment of 5 million Vatu to assist in the continuation of the Pacific Islands Legal Information Unit (PacLII) based at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Vanuatu. The total funding is 22 million vatu.
Honourable Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister of Vanuatu officially handed over the cheque to Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council during a recent meeting between the Vanuatu Government and USP.
Present at the handover was Honourable Jean Pierre Nirua, Minister for Education and Training and Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President.
Honourable Nirua confirmed that the decision for the Vanuatu Government funding for PacLII was made by the Council of Ministers (COM) in 2016, however he noted that the government resources are limited.
He said that this first cheque “is a gesture of hope” and that 6 million vatu from the Ministry of Education and Training would be paid before the end of the year.
Honourable Nirua also confirmed that a Council of Ministers’ decision last year stated that the 22 million vatu PacLII funding support was split evenly between two government ministries, namely the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Justice and Community Services.
Mr Thompson thanked the Government of Vanuatu for its commitment to PacLII given its uniqueness in the Pacific and crucial advocacy and training roles.
“I would like to commend the Government of Vanuatu for this kind gesture towards PacLII which not only underpins the development of legal services but supports good governance, the rule of law and economic development,” Mr Thompson said.
Professor Chandra also acknowledged Vanuatu’s contribution to PacLII saying it is important because it supports legal research and education, preserves vulnerable collections, encourages a Pacific jurisprudence and supports a Pacific identity.
“Since its existence, PacLII has become a phenomenon in that it has changed the way that populations access legal information in the Pacific,” Professor Chandra said.
PacLII is based at Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu. It is part of a worldwide network of Public Legal Information Institutes whose aims include providing free, full and anonymous public access to public information via the Internet.
PacLII, in partnership with USP’s School of Law, promotes free access to South Pacific laws and material via the Internet. It was initially funded by the School of Law, NZAID, AusAID and with the assistance of smaller grants.
Honourable Nirua confirmed that the Vanuatu Government agreed to provide the ‘interim’ funding support in order for PacLII to continue to operate.
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