U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Vanuatu
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Vanuatu, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1ee.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
VANUATUVanuatu, a small South Pacific island nation of approximately 170,000 people which was jointly administered by Britain and France prior to its independence in 1980, has a parliamentary form of government with a 50-member Parliament, a Prime Minister, and a President. The latter's powers are largely ceremonial, except when acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers. Political legitimacy is based on majority rule. The courts are normally independent of executive interference. The civilian authorities normally control the small police force and the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF). In the wake of a mutiny by elements of the VMF in October, 1996, the mutineers were arrested, tried and sentenced. Seven of them were dismissed from the VMF by the Police Service Commission. The Government accepted recommendations placing the VMF more firmly under the operational control of the Police Commissioner. Subsistence and small-scale agricultural production and fishing support more than 80 percent of the population. Copra, cocoa, and beef cattle are the main cash crops. The service sector--government, tourism, and an offshore financial center--provides most formal employment and represents the largest component of the country's gross domestic product. Government control over much of the media, attacks on an outspoken ombudsman, together with discrimination and violence against women, were the country's major human rights problems.