By Jean-Baptiste CALO
The President of the Republic of Vanuatu, His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale has call upon the Parole Board under the Vanuatu Correctional Service Department to do their job fairly.
President Lonsdale’s statement comes just few days after media reports that the parole requests of incarcerated political leaders have been submitted to the Parole Board for consideration.
“I am urging the Parole Board under the Correctional Service Department to do a thorough assessment of all detainees in Port-Vila and in Santo in order to ensure that all the inmates who meet the Parole requirements or criteria must have their requests processed and submitted to the Parole Board for consideration. The Board has the duty to ensure that every single detainee who has already served half of his (or her) sentence and who has obtained a report of good conduct from the correctional centre is given the opportunity to have his (or her) parole request submitted to the Parole Board”, President Lonsdale said.
“There’s no second class Ni-Vanuatu citizen and everyone should be treated equal in the eyes of the law. When it comes to Parole requests, we don’t want our citizens to accuse the authorities of leniency and favoritism towards political leaders over ordinary detainees. Whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re a leader, a minister, a businessman or a simple citizen, everyone has to be treated the same. No one is above the law. Therefore I urge the Parole Board to do make sure that at its next meeting, not only the requests of the political leaders will be processed for consideration but also the applications of all the rest of the detainees who currently meet the parole criteria as I mentioned earlier. The Board in question has to do its job fairly”, the Vanuatu Head of State concluded.
The Parole board consists of members from the judicial service, Correctional Department, women affairs and chiefs.
According to media reports, the parole requests of two former Members of Parliament, namely the former elected MP for Santo, Rialuth Serge Vohor and ex-Efate MP, Steven Kalsakau have already been submitted to the Parole Board for consideration.
The Parole Board would meet in the coming weeks to consider the applications of Mr. Vohor and Kalsakau.
According to Vanuatu analysts, the two political leaders are very likely to be successful in their parole request.
On the other hand, the authorities have recently rejected the application for parole submitted by several former MP detainees who had their sentences aggravated after they were found guilty by the Vanuatu Supreme Court of conspiracy against the state in an additional case.