Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 837

MELANESIA:

 1) Vanuatu will be celebrating the 25th Silver Jubilee of the MSG with a Melanesian Week from 8 – 9 May, 2013.  Other MSG countries have held theirs, however, Vanuatu will have theirs during this date.
Thx Cuz Mo for these information.More news soon re dates,events location etc.Ummmm!  Wish!  I was there to Danis full swing to the sound of STRING BAND!! and to top it up with ZOUK!! Vanuatu Pipol enjoy! Hehehe!

2)Appointment and Commencement of MSG EPG

Posted on April 16, 2013 – 10:04am |

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat Eminent Persons Group (EPG) convened in Port Vila, from 10-12 April 2013 for a briefing before they proceeded on consultations with Government and stakeholders in member countries.

The EPG Team is led by Mr Kaliopate Tavola from Fiji, the members nominations are Mr Roch Wamytan of the FLNKS Political Bureau, Mr Leonard Louma of Papua New Guinea, Member of Parliament Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu MP Joe Natuman.

The Team is expected to begin consultations in Vanuatu from 15-19 April, 2013; Noumea from 22-26 April, 2013, Fiji from 30 April – 3 May, Solomon Islands from 20-24 May and in Papua New Guinea from 27-31 May 2013. From the consultations, the EPG will formulate the proposed Melanesia Vision/Plan which will be presented to the MSG Leaders Meeting on 20-21 June 2013 in New Caledonia.

The EPG will, amongst other responsibilities, review MSG’s performance over the past 25 years in line with the Agreed Principles of Co-operation Among Independent States of Melanesia signed by the parties in Port Vila in 1988 as well as the Agreed Principles of Co-operation Among Independent States in Melanesia signed by the parties at Kiriwina, Trobriand Island on 7th June, 1996.

The EPG will undertake consultations with the State, Member Governments and the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak Socialiste (FLNKS) of New Caledonia including Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Societies including Customary Chiefs and Churches on a desired Vision and Plan specifying the anticipated Objectives and Strategies for the MSG for the next 25 years.

The MSG Secretariat has welcomed the appointment of the EPG Team and their vast experiences on regional and geo-political and development issues will greatly contribute to this important task mandated by Leaders.

The convening of an EPG was mandated by MSG Leaders at their meeting in Nadi in August 2012.http://www.dailypost.vu/

3) Call for foreign help with PNG job creation

Updated 17 April 2013, 17:19 AEST
Jemima Garrett for Pacific Beat

PNG’s Trade Minister has accused Australia of failing to help the country create the jobs it needs to cope with a growing population.

Papua New Guinea’s Trade Minister has accused Australia of failing to help the country create the jobs it needs to cope with a growing youth population.

Trade Minister Richard Maru has told Fiji’s interim Prime Minister and his 100-strong delegation that if PNG is to avoid social problems it needs two million new jobs.

He has invited Fiji businesses to come and take the place of Australian industries that have not developed local partners.

“Australia has done nothing to help us to raise beef here because it is not in their national interest,” Mr Maru said.

“Our islands can no longer be dumping grounds for our Australian and New Zealand friends, or anybody else for that matter.”

Mr Maru has also criticised Australia’s quarantine restrictions on PNG produce.

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama is visiting Papua New Guinea in a sign of strengthening relations between the two governments.

It is his first state visit to any country since he staged a military coup six years ago.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-04-17/call-for-foreign-help-with-png-job-creation/1117806

4) True friend PNG wants Fiji back in the Pacific Islands Forum
By Online Editor
5:49 pm GMT+12, 17/04/2013, Papua New Guinea

The government of Papua New Guinea will continue to push for Fiji’s memberships in all organisations.

Speaking to the Fiji Sun ,PNG’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rimbink Pato, said Fiji’s critics, especially Australia and New Zealand, tried to influence others to withdraw their support from Fiji.

He said these counter actions against Fiji only made the country stronger because of the strong leadership of its Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Fiji, he said, had gained more friends and its ‘Look North Policy’ had proved successful.

He said PNG wanted Fiji back in the Pacific Islands Forum fold because it was vital to the organisation.

“PNG will push for it,” r Pato said.

“Fiji’s absence from PIF has made the Melanesian Spearhead Group much stronger.”

On May 2, 2009 Fiji was suspended indefinitely from the Pacific Islands Forum.

The suspension of Fiji marked the first time a country was suspended from the Forum. It came after pressure from Australia and New Zealand following Fiji’s refusal to follow an election timetable they demanded.

Toke Talagi, the then chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Premier of Niue, said Fiji was not expelled from the Forum and it would be welcomed back into the fold when it returned to the path of “constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections”.

Pato said Fiji had a credible roadmap to return to democratic rule and this was what these critics wanted.

However, he said they could not push their way in on Fiji’s return to democratic rule.

“PNG has accepted Fiji’s roadmap and should offer help,”Pato said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola called PNG a true friend of Fiji.

“They have given Fiji their full support and we thank them for that,” Ratu Inoke said.

He reminded Australia and New Zealand that the Fiji isolation policy was not effective, but a blessing to Fiji.

Ratu Inoke said Fiji had made many new friends after the leadership change in 2006 and it was up to the old friends whether they wanted Fiji back into the fold or not.

“Fiji will continue to survive without them,” Ratu Inoke said.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

5) Vanuatu Lands Department Staff Told To Surrender Leases
Investigations underway into preferential state land access

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 16, 2013) – Vanuatu’s Minister for Lands Ralph Regenvanu has officially requested that all staff of the Department of Lands who obtained leases over state land from the former Minister surrender these leases.

Lands staff have received individually-addressed letters from Mr. Regenvanu requesting them to surrender the specific titles they had obtained.

A court case is ongoing and two internal investigations underway to identify staff of both the Ministry and Department of Lands who obtained leases in the last 12 months under a program of preferential access to state land established by the former Minister, Steven Kalsakau.

The Minister has advised that all staff voluntarily surrendering their leases would be fully refunded the money they paid for the leases.

Mr. Regenvanu is also requesting all local authorities not to issue any development permissions or building permits on the state land titles in question pending the outcome of investigations by the Public Service Commission and the Ombudsman.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

6) 2 New Caledonia Officials Banned From Public Office
Mayor, provincial VP convicted of electoral fraud

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 16, 2013) – New Caledonia’s appeal court has upheld suspended one-year prison sentences for two former elected leaders for committing electoral fraud four years ago.

Local media reports say the court ruled that the former mayor of Ouvea, Alosio Cyriaque, and the vice-president of the Loyalty Islands province, Jacqueline Deteix, be deprived of their civic rights, banning them from holding public office for two years.

The ruling came after a complaint by a woman in Noumea who found her name was listed in Ouvea.

A total of eight people were found guilty of the irregularity when the case was first in court a year ago.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

POLYNESIA:

7) American Samoa’s governor signs supplemental budget into law

Posted at 22:53 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

The Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has signed into law legislation appropriating 5 million US dollars to the American Samoa Government to fund 22 projects.

Lolo expressed appreciation to the Fono for acting swiftly to pass the supplemental budget.

The supplemental budget is to fund employee overpayment payments mandated by the US Department of Labor and several court judgments against ASG.

The court judgments include a partial payment of 550,000 dollars for the Laufou Shopping Center fire; the judgment in that case is well over 6 million dollars.

There is also funding for a new immigration tracking system, DOE school maintenance, and reimbursements of disallowable costs for federal programs.

The only change the Fono made to the legislation was to funnel 100,000 from the Department of Education maintenance’s budget in the legislation to pay for MV Sili repairs.

The funding sources for the appropriations are from the Tobacco Master and Toyota settlements, military cover over tax, and recoverable indirect costs in the ASG FY 2013 budget.

Radio New Zealand International

8) Domestic Violence In Tonga Not Being Reported To Police
Commissioner O’Fee expresses concerns at workshop

By Linny Folau

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 15, 2013) – The Tonga Police makes two to three arrests a week for domestic violence, which is a tiny tip of the iceberg, while statistics revealed a drop in the rate of reporting the crime to the police, which causes concern, said Police Commissioner Grant O’Fee on April 15.

A guest speaker at a workshop on “Upskilling of Journalists and Advocates on Reporting Domestic Violence in Tonga,” Commissioner O’Fee said that in January-February this year, 49 incidents were reported to police and 21 had been prosecuted.

He said victims of domestic violence were mainly aged 25-36 years and mostly females. “There were assaults on men but very few,” he said.

Of the 49 incidents it included two stabbings. A majority of common assaults included punching of victims but without the use of a weapon and involving mostly men beating-up the woman in either a husband-wife or a partnered relationship.

He said it was disturbing to find that the reporting of domestic violence to the police has dropped.

“Less reporting of the crime may sound good. But it is bad because when it’s gone down people might think it is a good sign that less men are beating up their partners. But evidence internationally has proved that this is not the case as either less people are coming forward or the police are not processing the complaints as well as they should. The truth is somewhere in between,” he said.

Commissioner O’Fee was concerned the low rate questions people’s confidence in Tonga police, or perhaps women feared that their husbands might go to prison and they would lose their breadwinner. “Perhaps the woman tolerates being beaten up rather than reporting it knowing the consequences that her husband will go to prison,” he said.

Bad attitudes

He admitted that his staffs’ attitudes toward the crime were also not helping.

He had talked to some NGO’s who said some women who went to complain to the police were told to go away because they were a disgrace to their family and it was their fault for getting beaten up by talking to another man, or for not having dinner ready. “This is my problem and I have told my staff this behavior is wrong as we are here to lock up the person who did it, if there is evidence, and to stop it,” he said.

He said he know some people are scared in the police since Kali Fungavaka was murdered as people have called him many times wanting to meet him to give information that they were too scared to come forward with to the police station.

“We have realigned our Strategic Plan and the main thrust of it is to regain the confidence and trust of the Tongan people, which I believe has been lost, a lot due to Kali’s death, among other in things, including domestic violence. We have got to change this attitude.”

Victim comes first

He said another challenge he faced with his staff is that they do not treat the victims particularly well.

“We in Tonga Police do not have a culture of ‘the victim comes first.’ I have to get our staff to be more aware when we go to court there are other people involved in a case, but the most important person is the victim. Sadly, at the moment we don’t have that mindset yet at the Tonga Police that the most important person in any investigation is the victim. and I apologize for that.”

He said police staff has now undergone many training courses in which the care and importance of the victim has been stressed. But at the same time we have a lot of good young staff who are eager to help out and are genuinely carrying out their oaths to the public, he said.

World

The Commissioner said Tonga is not the only country with the problem of domestic violence, “but we have got a long way to go to change the mindset,” he said.

“In Tonga we have an advantage compared to other countries and that is, I have been told, that 95 percent of Tongans go to church on Sundays. That seems to me that maybe we could have one day where every sermon says ‘This is wrong!'”

“Domestic violence to me is wrong, and we need to get that message out there. I don’t care if you are the head of the family. I don’t care if you are big and strong. I don’t care what position that you hold in society, or who you are, to me it just simple, it is plain wrong,” he said.

Some people say alcohol plays a big part in domestic violence that when the husband or male person is drunk causes a large part of it, but “that is a myth and I don’t believe that is the case,” he said.

“In Tonga statistics are that around 60 percent of the men arrested for domestic violence were affected by alcohol, which is the same statistics in New Zealand and Australia. I believe it is not about alcohol it’s about power and control. Domestic violence is no worse in Tonga than it is in New Zealand as we have one in three women in a relationship affected. It is not just a problem in Tonga it’s a worldwide problem.”

No Drop Policy

He said the Tonga Police’s “No Drop Policy” in regards to domestic violence had been good but, perhaps, it was time to look at it and how we can adapt it further because maybe women were not coming forward because of a fear their husband might go to jail.

He said police will soon be advertising the position for a person to head the Police Domestic Violence Unit.

“I have had discussions with the judiciary to look at the possibility of having a wider range of sentencing options and not just going to jail. There are some other options such as the Salvation Army, who has a good alcohol program. But I am very careful by not sending a signal that we are being soft on domestic violence,” he said.

He said the No Drop Policy will still be used but perhaps it can be adapted to include some discretion with police or the NGO concerned in regards to a particular case like the woman does not want her husband to go to jail but she wants the violence to stop, he said.

“At the end of the year we would like to see clear guidelines agreed with our partners on the way forward for domestic violence in Tonga. We do not have a clear path at the moment but we will talk to partner agencies on how it can be developed further,” he said.

The workshop attended by local journalists and advocates will run until Friday 19 April. The Solicitor General ‘Aminiasi Kefu will be another guest speaker on the proposed Family Protection Bill for Tonga.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

MICRONESIA:

9) Security high on the agenda of Palau, US talks

Updated 18 April 2013, 10:25 AEST

North Korea’s recent threats against American bases in the region, including Guam, will be raised at the annual joint committee meeting between the United States and Palau .

Security high on the agenda of Palau, US talks (Credit: ABC)

Palau president Tommy Remengesau Jnr will raise the issue at this week’s meeting.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Bernadette Carreon, Palau-based journalist.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/security-high-on-the-agenda-of-palau-us-talks/1118064

Nauru Parliament Sitting Adjourned Due To Lack Of Quorum
Waqa says public ‘fed up’ with MPs playing politics

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 16, 2013) – A Nauru MP says the islanders are sick of parliamentarians playing political games.

Baron Waqa was speaking after today’s first sitting of Parliament in more than a month had to be adjourned because it lacked a quorum.

It will now convene on Thursday.

Mr. Waqa says a number of the MPs, who last month sought a Supreme Court ruling that parliament be recalled, had boycotted, with some of them flying out of the country on Monday.

“There wasn’t any quorum therefore the Speaker adjourned the House until Thursday and we’ll see how things go then. There should be a flight back tomorrow [Wednesday] and we expect them to return tomorrow if they are serious. You know they can’t be doing this to this nation, the people of Nauru. They are playing politics and playing games, and people are just fed up with them.”

The 18 MPs are split into several factions – none large enough to command a majority.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

AUSTRALIA:

10) Australia urged to follow NZ on same-sex marriage

Updated 18 April 2013, 10:13 AEST
By New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz and staff

Australian gay couples are planning to cross the Tasman to wed after New Zealand’s parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

Australian gay couples are planning to cross the Tasman to wed after New Zealand’s parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

New Zealand’s parliament yesterday voted to redefine marriage as a union between two people, becoming the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

The vote, which passed 77-44, means gay couples could be legally wed as early as August.

Australian Emma Mansell says she will not be wasting any time before heading across the Tasman with her partner to marry.

“We’re planning in September (to be) having a ceremony in Sydney, and then after that at the end of the year we’re planning to get legally married in New Zealand,” she said.

Sydneysider Tara Price is also planning Kiwi nuptials.

“New Zealand has taken a big step and it’s something Australia really needs to consider,” she said.

New Zealand Labour MP Louisa Wall, who drove New Zealand’s law change, says she hopes it will provide impetus for similar reform in Australia.

Video: Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome discusses the law change (ABC News)

Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome says politicians in Canberra should follow New Zealand’s lead.

“I believe that any politician who ignores support for this in the community will lose votes as a result,” he said.

Mr Croome says New Zealand stands to make millions of dollars out of the gay wedding market, and Tasmania in particular has missed an opportunity.

Tasmania’s Lower House passed marriage equality legislation in October last year, but it was defeated by two votes in the Legislative Council.

“Much of the money that would have been spent here by couples from the mainland marrying in Tasmania will now be spent in New Zealand,” Mr Croome said.

“But we haven’t missed the opportunity completely. If we take action on this reform soon then some of those couples will still prefer to marry in their own country rather than in a foreign country.”

Greens leader Christine Milne says it is time Australia followed suit.

“I have no doubt that the decision in New Zealand to support marriage equality will bring pressure on Australia,” he said.

“Australians hate to think that we’ve fallen behind anyone else, let alone our rivals, New Zealand.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out any changes to federal legislation for now.

“What we have done is as a political party we’ve decided that people can exercise their own views and their own conscience when this matter comes before the parliament, which it recently did and I’m sure it will again in future,” she told a community cabinet meeting last night at Ringwood, Victoria.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-04-18/australia-urged-to-follow-nz-on-samesex-marriage/1117960

PACIFIC:

11) Pacific leaders gather in Wellington to promote regional ties

Updated 18 April 2013, 10:23 AEST

More than 60 Pacific parliamentarians and political leaders are in New Zealand Parliament for the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum – the first of its kind.

Pacific leaders gather in Wellington to promote regional ties (Credit: ABC)

The point of the forum is to promote stronger cooperation between the 19 Pacific nations represented at the gathering.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts,

Speaker: John Hayes, New Zealand’s Parliamentary Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Vergil Narokobi, a Papua New Guinean PhD student who is producing a book on the Forum

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/pacific-leaders-gather-in-wellington-to-promote-regional-ties/1118058

TOK PISIN:

12) Bougainville Polis klostu bai kisim tripla meri

Updated 17 April 2013, 15:53 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Oli tok ol polis ofisa na ol peace laen itoktok pinis wantem ol laen em oli wok long pasim tripla meri long bana distrik.

Odio: Paul Kamuai acting assistan polis komisina long Bougainville itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Polis long Bougainville long Papua New Guinea itok, oli hope klostu nau na bai oli kisim lapun meri na tupla yangpla meri  em oli wok long holim ol iet long wanpla rural helt senta long Bana.

Sampla laen ibin katim despla lapun meri na kilim sista blong en long wik igo pinis bihaen long oli bin sutim tok long ol olsem ol sanguma meri.

Pasin blong kilim nating ol meri bihaenim ol tokwin olsem oli save mekim pasin sanguma nau iwok long go antap long planti hap long kantri.

Nau ol lida long Bougainville wantem tu ol polis i askim Bougainville na National gavman long hariap long strongim ol loa blong stopim despla kaen pasin.

Paul Kamuai acting assistant Polis Commisina long Bougainville  ol polis ofisa blong en iwok long traem long kisim despla tripla meri blong bringim ol igo long Buka haus sik.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/tokpisin/2013-04-17/bougainville-polis-klostu-bai-kisim-tripla-meri/1117714

FRANIS:

13) Le mariage pour tous adopté en Nouvelle-Zélande

Posté à 18 April 2013, 8:39 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le vote était acquis et les députés kiwis se sont prononcés hier soir en faveur du mariage entre personnes de même sexe par 77 voix pour et 44 contre.

Au total, les dirigeants de 7 des 8 partis politiques du pays ont voté pour ce projet de loi qui devrait entrer en vigueur le 1er août prochain.

La Nouvelle-Zélande est devenue le 13ème pays de la planète et le 1er d’Asie-Pacifique, à légaliser le mariage pour tous.

Ce vote historique a déjà des répercussions en Australie. Selon Marriage Equality, un groupe de pression australien en faveur du mariage pour tous, 1 000 couples homosexuels ont exprimé leur intention de traverser la mer de Tasman pour aller se marier en Nouvelle-Zélande.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-04-18/le-mariage-pour-tous-adopté-en-nouvellezélande/1118012

14) Tuvalu : pas de sexe avant le mariage

Mis à jour 18 April 2013, 8:52 AEST
Pierre Riant

L’Église catholique est opposée au sexe prénuptial et le Secrétariat de la Communauté du Pacifique aussi.

C’est à Tuvalu, une petite nation océanienne située à mi-chemin entre l’Australie et Hawaï, que la CPS a entamé un sondage chez les jeunes filles de 12 à 16 ans pour jauger leurs connaissances et leurs perceptions à propos de l’abstinence sexuelle avant le mariage.

L’objectif est de lancer en août prochain une campagne d’information publique pour exhorter les adolescentes à patienter et à renoncer aux relations sexuelles avant les liens du mariage pour tenter de réduire la propagation des Maladies Sexuellement Transmissibles (MST). Une réalité à Tuvalu.

Nicol Cave est la responsable de l’équipe des communications stratégiques sanitaires de la CPS.

CAVE : « C’est très clair globalement que quand vous prônez l’abstinence à des jeunes filles, le plus tôt c’est le mieux. Dépenser de l’argent, du temps et de l’énergie dans des campagnes pour l’abstinence à des adolescentes plus âgées, de plus de 15 ou 16 ans, n’aboutit pas au succès dans cette tranche d’âge.

Donc, en fonction de l’expérience internationale, nous savons que si vous voulez prôner l’abstinence, il faut cibler plus jeune. »

C’est-à-dire en-dessous de 16 ans. Pour que les plus jeunes ne font pas pareil que leurs grandes sœurs ou grands frères.

CAVE : « Exactement. Ce que nous avons observé à Tuvalu en fonction de recherches faites en 2007, c’est que l’âge moyen pour le début des relations sexuelles chez les garçons et les filles est de 16 ans. Les plus jeunes voient donc le comportement de leurs ainés et c’est la raison pour laquelle nous voulons cibler les enfants plus jeunes avec le message suivant : personne n’est obligé de le faire et d’autres ne le font pas. Oui certes, des adolescents sont sexuellement actifs à 16 ans, mais pas tous les jeunes.»

Est-ce que les églises sont derrière cette campagne pour l’abstinence ?

CAVE : «  Je pense que dans nombreuses nations du Pacifique et à travers le monde, les programmes d’abstinence sont conduits par des organisations religieuses. Nous, nous laisserons le message unique de l’abstinence aux organisations religieuses mais nous parlerons aussi  des autres moyens disponibles  pour prévenir les MST et le VIH. »

Selon Nicol cave, les campagnes en faveur de l’utilisation des préservatifs sont nombreuses dans le Pacifique, mais l’abstinence est aussi un moyen de prévention et il faut en parler.

CAVE : « Leur connaissance du préservatif comme moyen de prévention du VIH est considérablement haute par rapport à ce qu’ils savent de l’abstinence.
Au Vanuatu par exemple, près de 90% des jeunes savent que s’ils utilisent un préservatif ils se protègent du VIH. Mais seulement dans les 40% savent que l’abstinence peut empêcher la propagation du VIH. On a donc peut-être trop insisté sur les préservatifs et peut-être pas assez sur la fidélité quand vous avez été testé ou sur le choix de pouvoir s’abstenir et de reporter à plus tard votre initiation au sexe. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-04-18/tuvalu-pas-de-sexe-avant-le-mariage/1117998

BUSINESS:

15) Fiji Casino Developer Given Till May To Begin Construction
One Hundred Sands Limited sorting out issues: AG

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 17, 2013) – Developer of the country’s first casino, One Hundred Sands Limited, has been given until the end of May to begin construction in Fiji, according to Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Speaking to The Fiji Times yesterday, he said One Hundred Sands Ltd. was in the process of addressing issues and had been made aware of the May deadline.

“They are sorting it out. They have been given until the end of May to come through,” he said.

Asked if the government was looking at other potential developers should One Hundred Sands fail to meet the deadline, the AG said the matter would be addressed once the deadline had passed.

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it. We will give them until May before we will look at other options.”

One Hundred Sands was granted an exclusive license to construct and manage Fiji’s first casino on Denarau Island in December 2011.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony in April last year where construction was expected to be completed for the FJ$290 million [US$162.2 million] casino complex by October this year.

One Hundred Sands board chairman Larry Claunch had promised employment for 1,600 locals during the construction and operation of the casino.

Attempts by this newspaper to obtain comments from Mr. Claunch about the Fiji casino development proved futile.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

16) Streamline Australia-PNG customs checks, urge ex-im firms

Updated 18 April 2013, 11:12 AEST

Businesses in Australia and Papua New Guinea and are calling on their governments to offer pre-clearance for PNG customs and immigration in the north Queensland city of Cairns.

Streamline Australia-PNG customs checks, urge ex-im firms (Credit: ABC)

Business organisations says the move could have a dramatic impact on trade and travel of all kinds.

Presenter:Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Cam Charlton, Chairman of Advance Cairns.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/streamline-australiapng-customs-checks-urge-exim-firms/1118068

17) Solomon Islands to crack down on tobacco sales

Posted 18 April 2013, 9:41 AEST

The Solomon Islands Government says it hopes to have tough new anti-tobacco laws in place by the end of May to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.

The Solomon Islands Government says it hopes to have tough new anti-tobacco laws in place by the end of May to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.

Under changes being considered by Cabinet, it would illegal to sell tobacco products within 200 metres of schools and restaurants.

Smoking in some public places, including schools, restaurants and government offices, would be also be banned.

Dr Lester Ross, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, has told Radio Australia there’ll also be big warnings on cigarette packets.

“I understand that some countries in the Pacific have 30 per cent of the packet on the front and 70 per cent on the back,” he said.

“I think our taskforce at the moment they are aiming to go for the largest percentage of the packet in the Pacific.”

Chinese traders in Honiara fear they’ll be unfairly targeted because a lot of their shops are located in the restaurant precinct in the city’s Chinatown.

Matthew Quan, President of the Chinese Association of Solomon Islands, says those traders are worried.

“The Chinese traders here can’t really go anywhere,” he said.

“It seems that if anyone’s going to be prosecuted or caught for doing the wrong thing, it will most likely be from those shops because they’re not going to be going anywhere, therefore they’re an easy target for the enforcement.”http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-04-18/solomon-islands-to-crack-down-on-tobacco-sales/1118076

18) Limiting foreign ownership in Vanuatu won’t hurt local chinese operators

Posted at 23:09 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

A ni-Vanuatu Chinese businessman is confident that Chinese operated businesses won’t be too affected by a new plan to restrict foreign ownership in Vanuatu.

The Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, says the government aims to restrict foreign ownership and stop the sector becoming the sole domain of the Chinese.

Greg Wu, who is also the vice president of the Chinese Club in Port Vila, admits there is tight competition among so many Chinese wholesale and retail run businesses offering very cheap prices.

But says this competition impacts positively on the economy.

“Most of the Chinese here, are naturalised citizens. So I think that policy only apply for all the new investor coming into the country so locally, all the Chinese here now, I dont think it will affect them too much.”

Greg Wu says they will just wait and see how this policy is actually implemented.

Radio New Zealand International

LAW&ORDER:


19) Rapists could be imprisoned for life under new Samoan Crimes Act

Posted at 20:29 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

Tough new penalties for sex crimes in Samoa have been welcomed by the Samoa Victim Support Group.

The Samoa Observer reports that under the new Crimes Act a person who commits rape could be imprisoned for life.

The President of the Samoa Victim Support Group, Lina Chang, has embraced the new law, saying it is a way forward and that the cries of victims are being heard and recognised.

Mrs Chang also says the organisation will soon open a lifeline to ensure help is available for victims, and will conduct seminars to raise awareness.

She says many sexual crimes happen within homes and villages and it is vital people are aware of the consequences of such abuse.

Radio New Zealand International

20) Solomons MP tells parliament people still don’t have confidence in police

Posted at 23:09 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

A Solomon Islands MP, Milner Tozaka, has told parliament that people’s confidence in the police force is not yet strong enough.

Discussing the Police Bill 2013, the MP for North Vella Lavella said the police lost the people’s confidence and trust during the recent ethnic tensions when police officers took sides.

On the question of re-arming some sections of the force, Mr Tozaka said he wants selected officers to be properly trained, not only on how to fire guns but also on how to behave towards civilians in unwanted incidents.

He added because Solomon Islanders still do not have full confidence in the police, re-arming officers must be progressive.

Radio New Zealand International

21) New Zealand To Resume Police Training In Papua
Officers will run community-based approach program

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 16, 2013) – New Zealand’s police training in Indonesia’s Papua region is set to recommence in September under an aid allocation of US$2 million.

The new three-year program extends New Zealand’s role training in community policing as the first foreign police force to be invited into Indonesia’s remote eastern region.

New Zealand ran similar programs in Papua between 2008 and 2010.

Operating on a rotational basis, two New Zealand police officers will be stationed in Papua, running a Training for Trainers program to develop community-based approaches to police work in the heavily-militarized region.

An ongoing separatist conflict has been simmering in Papua for decades but New Zealand’s ambassador in Jakarta David Taylor says his government respects the full territorial integrity of Indonesia.

However Mr. Taylor says all parties should work together to negotiate solutions for the issues in Papua.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

HEALTH:

22) PNG medical institute warns about potential spread of chikungunya

Posted at 08:40 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

Papua New Guinea’s Institute of Medical Research says the mosquito spread disease, chikungunya, poses a significant worry for many in the country.

The Institute’s Dr Paul Horwood says chikungunya has now spread through about eight provinces, after first appearing a year ago in Vanimo near the Indonesian border.

He says death from the disease is rare with the worst features typically a fever or arthritis.

But Dr Horwood says the arthritis sometimes lasts for up to a year which can be very debilitating for people in a predominantly farming based society, such as PNG.

He says there are things people can do to guard against the day biting mosquitoes which carry the virus.

“The mosquitoes usually live around habitation. So by cleaning up the area around your house and perhaps wearing long trousers and long [sleeved] shirts and reducing the access the mosquito can have to your body to bite you then that can certainly reduce your expose and decrease your chances of getting sick.”

Dr Paul Horwood.

Radio New Zealand International

23) Fiji President opens Pacific aid consultations
By Online Editor
5:22 pm GMT+12, 17/04/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau opened a regional consultation on HIV and AIDS in Nadi today.

The consultation forum attended by Government, legal, human rights and health leaders from Pacific nations is to review laws and policies that are blocking progress on HIV and AIDS issues in the region.

Attended by representatives from seven Pacific nations (Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), Ratu Epeli said the initiative was important to the small island States which impacted on human rights-based health programme  initiatives and the rights of people living with HIV.

“This consultation to discuss the review of laws and policies hindering access to HIV services for people living with HIV and key populations is one of the steps agreed to in the ESCAP regional framework which I chaired some years back,” Ratu Epeli said.

“As the first countries in the Asia Pacific region to hold the consultation, we are again showing our leadership and commitment to effective responses to HIV and to the human rights of those living with or vulnerable to HIV.

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, the participants at this consultation, together with our UN partners, to ensure objectives of this consultation are fully met.”

The meeting has been seen as an example to other countries in the region that will soon be holding similar consultations.

United Nations AIDS Pacific co-ordinator,  Tim Rwabuhemba said punitive laws, policies and practices hamper access to HIV-related services across Asia and the Pacific.

“Almost all Pacific nations have laws and policies which contribute to the obstruction of rights of people living with HIV and key affected populations,” Mr Rwabuhemba said.

“Many have laws and practices that effectively criminalize people living with HIV and key affected populations, mitigate or sustain violence and discrimination against women and sexual minorities and impede HIV-related treatment access.”

The meeting is a follow up to commitments made at the United Nations General Assembly (2011) and through the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2010, 2011) to review laws and policies that adversely affect the successful delivery of HIV services to people living with HIV.

SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

24a) AIDS spread through rape stoppable
By Online Editor
5:10 pm GMT+12, 17/04/2013, Papua New Guinea

Aids transmission through rape can be prevented if victims are taken straight to the family support centre at the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, a workshop was told yesterday.

“Come to us first and later go to the police to report the crime,” Paul Kunump of Medecins Sans Frontieres, operators of the family support centre, said.

He told the community leadership and health workshop in Lae yesterday that a treatment called post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) prevented the transmission of the HIV virus if rape victims were brought to the centre within three days of the incident.

“Less than 24 hours is even better,” he said.

Kunump related a double rape incident where one female victim was HIV positive and the other was negative.

The same men took turns raping both women but the negative one retained her status because she was brought to the centre immediately after the incident and put on PEP.

The PEP is an intensive 28-day treatment involving two doses a day and must be strictly adhered to by patients.

Kunump said that child sexual abuse was gradual and can be halted early if people in the community were properly trained to identify the symptoms.

“There are psychological signs like behavioural change and then physical ones like pain while urinating, pus, even stains on underclothes must be checked with the child.”

“Don’t take this lightly and wash them with hot water or give them amoxicillin. Take them quickly to the centre,” he said.

NGO Eastern Highlands Welfare Association facilitated the workshop with support from the provincial government.

Community development officers from six wards in Lae district are attending the workshop which ends on Friday.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIROMENT:

24b) Climate change driving change in Solomons’ staples

Updated 18 April 2013, 11:13 AEST

Climate change is being blamed at least in part for a switch in Solomon Islanders’ diet.

Climate change driving change in Solomons’ staples (Credit: ABC)

Pests, poorer soils, higher rainfall associated with the changing climate are among the causes affecting the production of traditional food crops.

The search is now on for alternatives, and more resilient crop varieties.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Frank Wickham, Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/climate-change-driving-change-in-solomons-staples/1118066

TOURISM/AVIATION+

25) Pacific tourism icon closes after 40 years

Updated 18 April 2013, 8:07 AEST
Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney

An American couple has been forced to close their 40-year-old hotel in Federated States of Micronesia, after failing to agree on a lease extension with local landowners.

An American couple has been forced to close their 40-year-old hotel in Federated States of Micronesia, after failing to agree on a lease extension with local landowners.

Bob and Patti Arthur built The Village on the island of Pohnpei when FSM was still a trust territory of the United States.

Mr Arthur says they had hoped to retire and hand over control to their son.

But he’s told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat while they had very good relations with the traditional landowners in the early years, in recent times a minority of the 26 landowners would not agree to an extension of their lease.

“It has all come together so that the land problems we’ve had, the lease problems we’ve had and the desire to go off and do our own thing somewhere else is probably taking over right now,” he said.

“We’re at that point where we’re old enough that we should have retired 20 years ago, but somehow kept on going.

“The thing that we found is that many, many, many people have supported us in the work that we are doing and are sorry that we are leaving – there are good things about Pohnpei but we’re not going to be one of them.”

The Village, located on a tropical forested hill, had been popular with eco-tourists from Europe and America,

Bob Arthur says the closure of the hotel will leave 52 people, most of them locals, out of work.

“We have trained almost everybody in the food service industry during the last forty years,” he said.

“So I don’t know how many people we have trained but I would guess 400 or 500.

“The people that we talk to say that, ‘If it had not been for you we would never have been trained’.”

In an editorial in the Marshall Islands Journal, the paper said the closure, “marks a sad day for tourism and economic development in the entire Micronesia area”.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-04-18/pacific-tourism-icon-closes-after-40-years/1117988

FISHERIES,AGRICULTURE+

26) Sea Cucumber Shipment Seized In Solomon Islands
Authorities, minister on the scene, but would not comment

By Bradford Theonomi and Ben Rakai

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 16, 2013) – An unknown consignment of containers, loaded with beche-de-mer ready for export, have been held up last night by Solomon Islands police officers from the CID unit before loading for export.

The reason for the holding up the containers could not be verified by this paper.

Solomon Star was at the scene and requested access into the ports authority to verify the confiscated containers but was denied entry by ports security officers.

However, an insider told this paper that he personally saw and dealt with those beche-de-mer containers but knew little of the reason why it’s being held up.

He also confirmed the confiscation of the consignments and the presence of CID officers at the scene.

Ports security officers last night also confirmed CID officers were at the scene which was also witnessed by this paper.

Interestingly, the minister of foreign affairs Clay Forau was spotted by this paper last night at the scene in an unknown vehicle.

The minister was sought for comments to explain why he was at the scene but declined.

Instead he relayed through his driver that it’s better to speak to the Asians who were also at the ports authority main entrance.

The driver who is also a police officer told this paper that he knew nothing about anything that happened but only realizes it at the scene when confronted by this paper.

He also confirmed the presence of CID officers, but when this paper made attempts to talk to the CID officers they also avoided the Solomon Star.

Minister Forau when contacted again late last night for comments said he was there only to find out what had happened.

“I was there to hear what the story was, I will call you back later I am still driving.”

But a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told Solomon Star last night that the presence of the minister of foreign affairs at the scene last night was under the direction from PMO’s office.

He said PMO has to intervene and confiscate the consignments due to reasons that companies responsible have allegedly made false declaration documents that were undervalued.

“Letters have been forwarded to the ministry of fisheries including Customs and Exercise regarding the beche-de-mer containers that were confiscated.

“Until the beche-de-mer containers are properly valued with proper declaration documents the containers will not be exported.”

Solomon Star could not verify the number of containers confiscated however it was claimed that the containers belongs to four separate companies who have been issued with licenses to buy beche-de-mer locally to export them overseas.

However the containers are likely to be exported after a permit for export was produced late last night, the insider told Solomon Star.

Solomon Star

27) Fishing Limits Proposed For Protected Pacific Sites
U.S. Interior: ‘customary exchanges’ could complicate regulations

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 15, 2013) – The U.S. National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) has been asked by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to put in place additional safeguards on “customary exchange” provisions of a proposed rule making which deals with fishing in the Mariana Trench, Pacific Remote Islands and American Samoa’s Rose Atoll national monuments.

DOI’s request, outlined in a letter last week, was made prior to the Apr. 8 closing period to provide comments regarding several proposed rules on fishing in these three monuments that were established through presidential proclamations.

Eileen Sobeck made DOI’s comments in her capacity as deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. She is also the acting assistant secretary for the Insular Affairs.

DOI said provisions that have been proposed include prohibition on commercial fishing in the three monuments as required by the Presidential Proclamations. In the Marianas Trench and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments, however, fish harvested under a noncommercial fishing permit may be exchanged for cash in an amount not to exceed actual trip expenses.

“We are concerned the proposed rule may not contain adequate safeguards to ensure that this form of ‘customary exchange’ would not cross the line into commercial fishing which is proscribed by the respective proclamations,” said Sobeck.

“Law enforcement officers could be challenged in their enforcement of the ban on commercial fishing,” she said, adding that officers could lack sufficient information to determine, when cash reimbursements exceed actual trip expenses or that buyers are family or friends of residents of local fishing communities.”

“While requirements for reporting such catch would be the primary means available for both ensuring that the catch is at a sustainable level and for providing data which may indicate that the level of catch is indicative of commercial operations, we recommend that the final rule contain one or more additional directions to ensure enforcement of the ban on commercial fishing,” she said.

Among such additional directions:

Limit customary exchange to fishing practices that were part of the cultural, social, or religious tradition of local communities at the time the proclamations were issued, consistent with the proclamations’ allowance for “traditional indigenous fishing;”
Establish bag limits for noncommercial fishing;
Cap the amount of cash that can be received through customary exchange;
Require fishers to report fishing trip expenses and cash sales; and,
Include a definition of “Community Residents” for implementation of customary exchange.

“Such measures would more closely align the regulations with the proclamations’ directions to prohibit commercial fishing in the Monuments,” said Sobeck, who also commented and offers DOI suggestions to other provisions of the proposed rule.

There were also a handful of non-profit U.S. based groups who called for more stringent measures to be implemented to further safe guard, “customary exchange” ensuring that it does not become commercial fishing.

Dr. Craig Severabce, a professor with the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, said in his comments, “Customary exchange fishing for cultural and ceremonial needs continues to be an important motive for initiating fishing trips and for sharing catches widely among the indigenous people of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa, especially Manu’a.”

He also says that customary exchange is a valid anthropological term for a long term and on going cultural practice.

“It is difficult for westerners with their images and concepts of ‘commercial fishing’ as large scale profit making business to understand that customary exchange has a different motive and outcome,” he said.

He also said that the distances involved and fuel costs will limit all fishing in the monuments and will be monitored to ensure sustainability of the fishery and should be accepted in a way that provides for sustainability of deeply rooted cultural practices.

All documents, comments and response pertaining to the NMFS’ proposed rule making on the Monuments are available on the federal government portal: www.regulations.gov

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

SPORTS:

28) Fijian referee humbled by World Cup Sevens appointment

Posted at 22:53 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

Fijian rugby referee Koini Vuli admits to a few nerves after being named on the panel to officiate at the Women’s World Cup Sevens in Moscow in June.

Vuli picked up the whistle five years ago and will be one of two Fiji referees in Russia, with James Bolabiu selected for the men’s tournament.

She says the call-up came out of the blue.

“The more people keep congratulating me, or the more they repeat it, the more I come to understand what has been achieved.It’s a really big achievement so I’m really humbled by that.I’m very nervous because you have to work at that stage – at the world stage. Fortunately I’ve had the experience of working with the girls – the other referees – in Dubai, and I see that it’s a very great team, so that for me is the umbrella for being nervous.”

Koini Vuli says her next goal is to make the step up to refereeing in 15-a-side international tournaments.

Radio New Zealand International

29) Tahitian footballers stun Oceania champs on home soil

Posted at 22:53 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

Tahitian newcomers Dragon created history on Wednesday after coming from behind to beat Oceania football champions Auckland City 3-1 at Trusts Arena.

It marked the first ever away win for a Tahitian club over a New Zealand opponent and Dragon coach Ludovic Graugnard says now everything is in their hands to qualify.

The win tightens an already tense three-horse race for the semi-finals – Auckland still lead Group A on nine points, two clear of Dragon and Waitakere United, who eased past Mont-Dore 3-1 in the evening game.

Meanwhile Amicale FC and Ba have confirmed their places in the final four.

Vanuatu champions Amicale beat 2010 O-League winners Hekari United while Fiji’s Ba thrashed newcomers Solomon Warriors 5-0.

Both teams have 10 points from four matches and can’t be overtaken in Group A with two rounds to go.

Radio New Zealand International

30) Samoa and Tonga name teams for Pacific rugby league test

Posted at 22:53 on 17 April, 2013 UTC

Samoa and Tonga have finalised their teams for Saturday night’s Pacific Test in Penrith.

Toa Samoa coach Steve Price says with a handful of ex Kiwis internationals, such as Roy Asotasi and Jeff Lima, electing to represent Samoa, picking his final 17 was a lot more difficult than two years ago.

Meanwhile Sika Manu, Jason Taumalolo and Anthony Tupou will form a powerful back-row trio after being named to make their Mate Ma’a debut.

Former Australia and New South Wales prop Brent Kite will captain the team, with Fuifui Moimoi named to come off the bench.

Radio New Zealand International

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