Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1076 ( Monday 9 March 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) Nasty storm coming

Rnzi
Monday, March 09, 2015

A MONSTER is hovering over the South Pacific as it targets New Zealand, Vanuatu or Fiji. It will deepen over the warmest waters of the south west Pacific, then develop into a severe tropical cyclone.

It’s still early to lock in an exact path. Many computer models that New Zealanders look at online show a nasty storm moving towards northern New Zealand just after the middle of March.

Other models that WeatherWatch.co.nz use, and rely on, show it may track well east of us. Either way — we’re somewhat in the middle of these potential pathes…and also at the end, as tropical cyclones don’t ‘technically’ live on south of about the Far North area.

So while the exact route isn’t yet confirmed, the likely general path will first take the deepening low on a meandering path through some of the tropical island nations directly north of us over the coming week.

Like NZ, they may also miss a direct hit but with the storm likely to be far more intense over the warm tropical waters nations such as Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and even Fiji, they will be on high alert soon due to the potential of a severe tropical storm.

Sea surface temperatures are a major component for fuelling tropical storms. The water in the 300km zone just north of Northland is much cooler than the waters around New Caledonia.

This means the low may look intense as it rushes towards us after March 15 — but it’s highly likely the low will then quickly unravel and lose a lot of its energy as it, potentially, nears us.

There’s no point in focusing on any regional forecasts this far our — if the low slides 100kms further east we may have little to no impact weatherwise, so no point in stressing about it now until we can lock something in with some confidence (probably later next week).

But even a nearby offshore ex cyclone can cause serious swells and deadly rips along our coastlines — and with so many Kiwis still hitting the beaches and coastlines (as the beach water is now at its warmest) and with so many computer models confirming an ex tropical low is likely to track our way, we wanted to give you the latest information we have, so you could better plan ahead.

The general forecast from WeatherWatch.co.nz for this month is that conditions still look drier rather than wetter, so if you have an important outdoor event after March 15 the general forecast hasn’t changed yet — we’re still forecasting a mostly dry weather pattern.

2) Potentially massive cyclone brews off Vanuatu

Updated 9 March 2015, 17:25 AEDT

Fiji is preparing for heavy rain and strong winds later this week as a tropical depression to the north west of Vanuatu intensifies.

There are predictions it will become a cyclone in the next 24 hours and possibly intensify to a category five system.

The depression is slow moving and expected to pass to the south west of Fiji but from Wednesday the country can expect heavy rain, strong gusty winds and squally thunderstorms.

Neville Koop from the Na Draki Weather Service says people should start to prepare for the arrival of the bad weather.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Neville Koop, Na Draki Weather Service/Radio Australia

3) Solomons Supports West Papua Self-Determination
MSG considering United Liberation Movement membership bid

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – The Solomon Islands Foreign Minister says the Melanesian Spearhead Group as a collective supports the right of West Papuans to self-determination.

Milner Tozaka says he related this during his recent talks with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Honiara.

Ms Marsudi’s recent visits to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji came as members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group consider a membership bid by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

Mr Tozaka says the MSG agreed that member countries would raise West Papua issues bilaterally.

“We have a collective stand on it that we support the self-determination of West Papua. But we have to look at it in light of the referendum that was signed (by West Papuans to join Indonesia) in 1969.”

Milner Tozaka says the United Liberation Movement’s bid will have to be considered under the terms of the MSG membership criteria.

Radio New Zealand International

4) MP RALPH SPONSORS 11 USP FOUNDATION STUDENTS IN SEMESTER 1 2015

Yu save ridim ful storian ia long website.

Naoia tu yu save luk ol foto blong ol niufala GJP Presiden blong Malampa mo Shefa long website.

Ta, Ralph Regenvanu – www.graonmojastis.org

POLYNESIA

5) Long way to go for women in Tuvalu

By Online Editor
10:41 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Tuvalu

The United Nation committee on the elimination of discrimination against women has released its concluding observations on this year’s review of Tuvalu.

It says the positives include the introduction of new domestic violence legislation and more participation in local council budget meetings.

It also includes the abolition of some discriminatory education practices that prohibit girls from certain training such as that offered at the Tuvalu Maritime Institute.

But UN Cedaw expert, Xiaoqiao Zou, says the concerns far outweigh the positives.

“I hope through this dialogue and when they read our concluding observations. They will take some affirmative action to implement the committees concluding observation for the benefits of the women in the state party.”

Zou says some of the issues of most concern include the continued absence of definitions of discriminations against women in the constitution, a culture of silence and impunity around violence against women, extremely low political participation of women and strong cultural and family stereotypes that deny women in Tuvalu their human rights.
SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

6) Samoa Launches Youth Unemployment Plan
Rural to urban shift straining job creation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 8, 2015) – A plan to address youth unemployment in Samoa has been launched by the International Labour Organisation or ILO.

The Deputy Director of the ILO for the Pacific, Satoshi Sasaki, say youth unemployment is estimated to be around 16 percent and together with underemployment remains a critical challenge for Samoa.

Mr Sasaki says before the launch of the National Action Plan on Youth Employment, no plan existed to address the issues.

He says the rural to urban drift of young people for better education and employment is putting an enormous strain on the Government to generate adequate jobs for new entrants into the labour force.

Mr Sasaki says a key challenge in Samoa is its young unskilled and unqualified workforce.

He says 40 percent of young people left school without graduating secondary education.

The plan will highlight priorities, strengthen delivery and integrate job creation with the mitigation of climate change.

Radio New Zealand International

7) Tonga private sector need to get involved in free trade process, says Viliame

By Online Editor
10:44 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Tonga

Although Free Trade Agreements with trading partners provide opportunities for market access for Pacific Islands products, generally businesses in Tonga lack awareness of the rules, says Viliame Rova who facilitated a workshop last week in Nuku’alofa.

“We have existing free trade agreements that have already been signed and still the Private Sector are not aware of the criteria or opportunities that are in the free trade agreements for them to benefit from,” he said.

Tonga’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries organised the workshop on the technical aspects of the trade agreements in the first week of March. Rova, a senior customs officer, with Fiji Customs, Suva, Fiji, trained 15 participants, including producers, retailers, wholesalers, and customs agents,

“From a customs perspective it’s important for us Customs to get our key stakeholders like the Private Sector to be aware of the technical requirements in the free trade agreements so we can increase compliance level,” he said.

Rova said it was the “non-tariff” or technical barriers to trade that caused the most frustrations.

“With some commodities there are restrictions on the quota for export from here to our trading partners. Limited quotas, like for example kava, only 5 kg exports from here to our partners on every export.”

He stressed the importance of adding value to products that faced barriers so that they could be exported under a different classification and different rules.

“In the context of the Pacific, specifically for Tonga you have a lot of agricultural products, and there could be value added into these products,” he said.

“The opportunities are there that we have a lot of resources, raw materials, and we can look at opportunities of investing in putting value into our resources, our products for export. For us to meet market demand we can easily accumulate our resources with our neighbouring trading partners and produce manufactured goods that are exported to our trading partners. Those are the opportunities that are available to us,” he said.

The Pacific Islands Trade Agreement (PICTA) is one of the agreements, which covers 11 countries in the Pacific, excluding New Zealand and Australia.

Another, the Pacer Plus, has negotiations coming up, which includes Australia New Zealand and 14 Pacific islands countries.

“The issue that I find with Tongans is the consultation process. The Private Sector is not aware of what is happening in the free trade agreements and with the negotiations. So they need to get themselves involved because at the end of the day it’s the Private Sector that is trading. They need to be aware,” he said.

SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS

8) Lord Tu’iha’ateiho fined $2,500 for illegal firearm

By Online Editor
5:07 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Tonga

Tonga’s Lord Tu’iha’ateiho was fined TOP$2,500(US$1, 270) on one charge of possession of a firearm, a .22 automatic pistol without a license, at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court.

A current Ha’apai Noble’s Representative to Parliament and former Deputy Speaker, he pleaded not guilty to the charge but was found guilty on November 21, 2014 after a trial before Mr Justice Cato.

The judge fined the noble $2,500 to be paid within two-months from today, or in default three-months imprisonment.

He said this was an appropriate case where he applied section 30 of the Criminal Offences Act, dealing with the sentence by way of fine rather than imprisonment.

“The defendant is a man of good character, a first time offender and only one firearm was involved, as his counsel emphasized. I take the view that he was in possession of the firearm should a need for protection arise, not for any more sinister criminal purpose. I consider also his decision to come forward and alert the police to the existence of the firearm was a factor, which further justifies mitigating a more serious penalty,” he said.

The judge said the Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu, appropriately in his view, did not suggest that he should deal with this matter other than by way of a fine.

The court was told that the sentence hearing which was initially set for January 19, 2015 was further adjourned to February 27 at the request of the noble’s counsel K. Barron Afeaki SC, in order for him to collect evidence to proceed with an application that the noble be discharged under the provisions of section 204 of the Criminal Offences Act, as provided for by Section 28 of the Criminal Offences Amendment Act 2012.

This is a new provision and this was the first time this section was considered by this court.

Counsel for the defendant suggested to the judge that under section 204, he should decline to enter a conviction.

Justice Cato said the counsel argued that the judge should not impose a conviction because the noble would be considerably inconvenienced in relation to travelling to other countries, either privately to be with relatives who lived in the US or in Australia and elsewhere, or in his parliamentary life.

He also submitted that as a member of parliament the noble could be expected to travel and a conviction might limit his ability to properly perform these duties because he has to travel to many countries.

He argued a conviction might even impair his client’s security of tenure if he were unable to perform as a member of parliament. But he could not say, however that any country would deny him admission with certainty, said the judge.

Justice Cato said parliament had set a clear directive to the courts that serious consequences should follow a conviction for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.

“Although I have mitigated the penalty of imprisonment by imposing a fine under section 30, which Kefu, in the circumstances of this case was in agreement, to go further would in my view be wrong as it would diminish the importance of the need to ensure compliance with legislative and promote firearms security and control.”

Kefu had submitted that it would be wrong to discharge the noble under section 204 in these circumstances as a discharge without a conviction should be reserved for only exceptional cases and that deterrence to other offenders as well as prominent members of society was an important issue here.

He also emphasized the need to ensure that sentences are proportionate to the offending which he submitted was serious offending, and that it was important to uphold public interest in protecting the public from unlicensed and unregulated access to firearms.

“The licensing and security of firearms in any society is a matter of great importance and in this case paramount consideration. I consider Kefu is correct when he submitted that as a very senior member of the Tongan community, with his societal and professional responsibility, he should have known better and respected the legislation.”

The judge said Lord Tu’iha’ateiho had other licensed guns but his counsel did not advance any satisfactory reason why he had chosen not to license the pistol aside from a suggestion it was an ornament.

The weapon was by his bed with access to ammunition as a protective measure was not simply an ornament as suggested, he said.

“It would be a wrong message for the Tongan community that persons could avoid conviction for being in possession of unlicensed firearms by essentially an appeal to the avoidance of possible travel restrictions.”

The incident arose after the noble’s home was burgled and the pistol was stolen some four-years ago. The noble had informed the police that it was missing but the firearm was used to commit another serious crime either directly or indirectly by the burglar.

“This is an illustration of the importance of ensuring that firearms are licensed and secure,” said Mr Justice Cato.

Lord Tu’iha’ateiho retains his title since his sentencing was less than two-years. Clause 23 of the Constitution states that a sentence would have to be two-years imprisonment or more for a title to be taken off a convicted offender.

SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS

9) Tongan Police Minister: Relationship With Commissioner Not Clear
Building up public confidence in police key issue

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – The Minister of Police in Tonga says he needs to clarify how his relationship with the new commissioner will work once he arrives.

The appointment of New Zealander Superintendent Steve Caldwell has now been given royal approval but a request for contractual changes around termination conditions has delayed his arrival.

The Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa says there are two areas he wants to address with Mr Caldwell when he starts.

Mr Tu’i’onetoa says one is building up public confidence in the police and the second is clarifying who the Commissioner will be answerable to.

“Independency of course is very important. I do understand independent coming from my background as Auditor-General but coming into the police, certain things there I do not understand how the principle of independency and the accountability work.”

The Tongan Police Minister, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa.

Radio New Zealand International

10) Snow on Hawaii’s slopes puts pressure on services

Updated 9 March 2015, 13:30 AEDT

People usually don’t associate snow with Hawaii but it’s suprisingly common on the Big Island’s volcanic peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa – both more than 4,000 metres high.

On Thursday, some 30 centimetres of snow fell over the mountains, forcing roads to close and bringing temperatures of minus 8 degrees Celsius.

It was due to start snowing again on Sunday in Hawaii.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Matt Forster, US Weather Service, Honolulu//Radio Australia

MICRONESIA

11) CNMI cop arrested for ‘ice’ trafficking

9 March 2015

A police officer in the Northern Marianas has been arrested for alleged trafficking of methamphetamine, or ice.

The Attorney General’s Investigation Division arrested Police Officer Carl Tudela in San Antonio on Friday night.

The officer is said to be assigned to the Department of Public Safety’s patrol section.RNZI

12) Ponhpei senator’s supporters hope for further honours
Updated 9 March 2015, 13:30 AEDT

In the Federated States of Micronesia, the senator for the state of Ponhpei Peter Christian has retained his seat, defeating Governor John Ehsa by a landslide, winning about 60 percent of the vote.

The win puts him in good stead for the upcoming presidential elections in which the FSM congress selects a leader from one of the four state senators.

Editor of the Marshall Islands Journal Giff Johnson says locals believe it’s Ponhpei’s turn for the top spot.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Giff Johnson, Editor, Marshall Islands Journal

13a) Taiwan funds road and airfield upgrade in Kiribati’s outer islands

By Online Editor
10:43 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Kiribati

Taiwan has presented AU$635,000 to the government of Kiribati for the upgrade of public infrastructure.

Last week, the Counselor at the Taiwanese Embassy in Tarawa, Henry Lin presented the cheque to the Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Utilities, Terieta Mwemwenikeaki.

The funds will be used to upgrade road and airfield in the outer islands.

Terieta thanked the government and people of Taiwan for their continuous support to improve the livelihoods of the people of Kiribati.

13b) Nauru Government Alleges Threatening Behavior By Refugees
Refugee on refugee intimidation over non-participation in protests

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 7, 2015) – Nauru’s Justice Minister has accused refugees on the island of threatening other refugees who haven’t taken part in protests this past week.

David Adeang says at least one refugee has been moved from his accomodation to an undisclosed location for his safety, after he was visited by four refugees who threatened him physically if he didn’t take part in protests.

Police are said to be investigating.

183 refugees were arrested this week for unlawful assembly following protests about their treatment by Australia and Nauru.

Mr Adeang says many of the refugees on Nauru want nothing to do with the protests, and has again blamed Australian refugee advocates and the Australian Green Party for stoking unrest. Radio New Zealand International

14) Unofficial Result Of FSM National Election In Yap
Congressional election from March 3, 2015

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 9, 2015) – On March 3, 2015, the four states of the FSM went to the polls to vote for their next representatives to the Congress of the FSM. In Yap, two candidates ran each for the two-year and four-year terms in Congress — longtime Congressmen Isaac V. Figir and Joseph John “Joe” Urusemal, respectively.

On the FSM National Election Day, voters went to the polls between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. in select sites around the Yap main islands and the neighboring islands, as well as off-state places such as Pohnpei, Guam and Hawaii.

The total votes so far, as reported in the unofficial results, were:

• Isaac Figir for two-year term, single-seat: 2,437

• Joe Urusemal for four-year term, at-large: 2,452

For more information or clarifications, contact the Yap election office at 691-350-4217 during government working hours.

Marianas Variety

15) Yap Recycling Program Gets Japanese Funding
New recycling center and landfill products of collaboration

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 9, 2015) – Masaki Sakai, ambassador of Japan to the FSM, made his first visit here to join the Yap Day festivities.

Afterward, the ambassador held various meetings and site visits including those with offices and entities related to solid waste management in Yap.

Sakai along with the Yap State Environmental Protection Agency jointly held a grant award signing ceremony at the Yap Pacific Dive Resort restaurant where the grant award contract documents were signed. The ambassador presented the grant award check to Yap EPA in the amount of $116,218 in support of the enhancement of the Yap state recycling program project.

Sakai made a site visit the following day to the Yap Recycling Center located at the end of the Colonia peninsula to view recycling operations and briefing as offered by Jesse Faimaw of Island Paradise Company.

Sakai then proceeded to a meeting with the Department of Public Works and Transportation where he met with acting Director Manuel Maleichog, Contracts & Engineering Management Division Chief James Sarmog, and Solid Waste Management Coordinator Jesse Sigeyog.

The meeting was concluded with a site visit to the Yap public landfill where ambassador was briefed by acting Director Maleichog and Jesse Sigeyog on use and operation of the recently opened landfill.

The landfill was improved through a previous Embassy of Japan grassroots grant awarded to Yap EPA and Department of Public Works and Transportation.

Yap EPA thanks Ambassador Sakai for his time with meetings and the grant award presentation to the agency and state as well as various Yap government and traditional leaders and private sector representatives.

Yap Pacific Dive Resort management and staff are also acknowledged and thanked for the venue where the grant award signing ceremony was held.

Marianas Variety
AUSTRALIA

16) Aid Monitor: Aus ‘Benefitting’ From Corruption In PNG
Aus gov needs to actively support PNG anti-corruption

By Suzie Raines

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 6, 2015) – A director of an independent monitor of Australia’s aid and trade policy says the Government must do more to combat corruption in Papua New Guinea, including bringing to account Australian companies involved in fraudulent land and business leases in the Pacific nation.

Thulsi Narayanasamy, a director of Aid Watch, said Australia’s $577-million-a-year aid budget to PNG was focused on anti-corruption measures but Australia was “benefitting” from corruption there.

Ms Narayanasamy said there was a Commission of Inquiry into the department of finance in PNG which cited a number of individuals that had links to Australia, including an official at the centre of the widespread fraud of 780 million kina ($AU380 million) (US$286,627,000) who has since come to Australia.

“Similarly, a recent Commission of Inquiry into Special Agricultural and Business Leases, or SABLs… tabled (in) 2013 (found) a number of Australian companies were cited as having engaged in fraudulent leases. One of these companies benefitted from the largest lease in PNG history and that is a Queensland-based company,” she said.

“Australia has done nothing to bring these companies to account… despite them being Australian. We would see that as Australia, or Australian companies, benefitting off the corruption in PNG.”

Ms Narayanasamy said Australia had a responsibility to address Australian company involvement in fraudulent leases, and also to support PNG’s domestic anti-corruption measures.

A taskforce established in 2011 by the then-PNG government was discredited by the PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill after its investigations resulted in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest.

Ms Narayanasamy questioned Australia’s reasons for not supporting national anti-corruption measures in PNG.

“Sam Koim, who is head of that Taskforce Sweep, did come to Canberra on a number of occasions to seek Australian parliamentary support for this and he was rebuffed saying that corruption is a domestic issue,” she said.

“For something like the commission of enquiry into SABLs… we don’t really see what’s stopping Australia from publically supporting overturning these fraudulent leases as well as supporting how that would logistically happen within PNG through the Australian aid program.”

The ABC has sought comment from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Steven Ciobo.

Radio Australia

FRENCH

17) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 9 mars 2015

Posté à 9 March 2015, 16:22 AEDT
Élodie Largenton

L’Australie viole la Convention des Nations unies contre la torture. C’est ce qu’affirme un rapporteur spécial de l’ONU, Juan Mendez.

Selon lui, les conditions de détention des demandeurs d’asile dans le centre australien de Manus island, mais aussi les récentes modifications apportées aux lois maritimes, contreviennent aux règles de base. Ce rapport devait être soumis aujourd’hui au Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU.

  • Pour la première fois depuis une semaine, Myuran Sukumaran et Andrew Chan ont vu des membres de leurs familles, aujourd’hui. Ces deux Australiens condamnés à mort en Indonésie n’avaient pas pu recevoir de visite depuis leur transfert sur l’île de Nusakambangan, où ils doivent être bientôt exécutés. Ce jeudi, la justice indonésienne se prononcera sur le dernier appel tenté par leurs avocats pour leur éviter la peine de mort.
  • Les Îles Salomon soutiennent la candidature des indépendantistes de Papouasie occidentale au Groupe mélanésien Fer de Lance. Selon le ministre salomonais des Affaires étrangères, ce sont mêmes tous les membres de l’organisation mélanésienne qui soutiennent le droit à l’auto-détermination de la province indonésienne. Le Groupe mélanésien Fer de Lance examine en ce moment la candidature de la fédération des organisations indépendantistes du territoire. Sa réponse est attendue en milieu d’année.
  • Un plan pour lutter contre le chômage des jeunes aux Samoa. C’est l’Organisation internationale du travail qui vient de le lancer, en mettant l’accent sur la formation, car environ 40% des jeunes samoans quittent l’école avant le lycée. L’OIT souhaite les orienter vers des métiers qui pourraient s’avérer cruciaux dans les prochaines années, notamment dans le domaine du changement climatique.//Radio Australia

18) Loin de la carte postale : Hawaï est sous la neige

Mis à jour 9 March 2015, 16:27 AEDT
Élodie Largenton

Oubliez vos planches de surf, et chaussez vos skis ! Big island, la plus grande des îles de l’archipel hawaïen est sous la neige.

En fin de semaine dernière, la température est descendue jusqu’à -11 degrés celsius, et une trentaine de centimètres de neige recouvrait les deux sommets de l’île : les monts Mauna Kea et Mauna Loa. Les routes menant en haut des volcans ont été fermées à la circulation, par mesure de précaution.

On est donc loin de l’image de carte postale d’Hawaï, île tropicale, paradis des surfeurs… Et pourtant, ce phénomène météo n’est pas si inhabituel, comme l’explique Matt Foster, du service américain de météorologie :

« Ce n’est en fait pas si rare que ça. Pendant l’hiver, on a en moyenne cinq à huit épisodes neigeux à Big island. Celui-ci est un peu particulier, c’est sûrement l’un des épisodes les plus solides, étant donné le nombre de centimètres de neige qui est tombé. En général, ça se limite à un léger saupoudrage de quelques millimètres. »

Ce serait donc le moment idéal pour aller skier dans un endroit insolite. Mais les autorités préviennent les curieux : il n’y a pas de station de ski à Hawaï, pas de remontée mécanique, pas de piste… Il faut pouvoir se rendre en voiture jusqu’aux sommets des volcans et ensuite se frayer un chemin, non pas parmi les sapins, mais parmi les rochers.//Radio Australia

PASIFIK

19) New coins for Pacific countries

9 March 2015

Tonga, Cook Islands and Vanuatu are looking forward to the delivery of their brand new coins this year which will apparently not only look better but cost less to produce.

The three countries follow in the footsteps of Samoa and Solomon Islands who were the first to withdraw costly coins from circulation and replace them with more affordable alternatives being offered by the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.

Tonga will be first to receive its new coins in June to coincide with the coronation of King Tupou the VI whose image will be on one side of the new coins.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Australian Mint, Ross McDiarmid, says this will be followed by Cook Islands and Vanuatu the former with its unique Triangular coin, a design it shares with only one other country, Bermuda.

“We are extraordinarily proud and privileged to do the work on behalf of these Pacific Island nations and we look forward to working with others who may wish to follow the same path. We can provide a much more comprehensive review of those coins rather than simply just producing them, so if countries wish to talk with us we would be delighted to talk to them.”

Ross McDiarmid says all new coins will have unique fauna, flora and national designs but these will be revealed by the respective countries at their discretion.RNZI

20) No revolution’ in 11th EDF upsurge, but still encouraging

By Online Editor
7:57 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Belgium

In the next seven years, African Caribbean and Pacific countries can expect to receive up to 30.5 billion euros (US$33.7 billion) worth of aid from the European Union, following the full entry into force of the 11th European Development Fund last week.

In a joint statement, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and development commissioner Neven Mimica noted that this represents a concrete implementation of the long-standing Cotonou agreement — a treaty governing foreign policy, trade and aid ties between the EU and 79 ACP countries until 2020.

The current EDF presents an increase of US$7.8 billion compared with the previous one. But nongovernmental organizations noted that this upsurge is “no revolution” — especially when the difference of duration, inflation and partners are factored in.

“If we calculate based on the current EDF expanded to seven years, instead of six as it currently stands … this increase will barely cover the inflation over the years,” Concord, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs, said in a briefing paper. “Moreover more member states will be contributing — making a shift in the contributions of some of the bigger contributors to lower contribution percentages — and Overseas Countries and Territories are eligible.”

Nevertheless, a closer look at the distribution of funds shows more encouraging developments.

Under the 11th EDF, Brussels will sustain its commitment to helping ACP countries tackle common thematic challenges. Although bilateral cooperation will continue to absorb more than 80 percent of the funds, the intra-ACP program is slated to absorb about 12 percent of the total EDF envelope — the same share it received in the 2008-2013 period.

Furthermore, the European Commission’s administrative expenditure will jump from 430 million euros to 1.1 billion euros. Many civil society actors hope this will help the EU delegations build the expertise they need to ensure more policy coherence and better delivery of commitments.
Promising changes

According to Alisa Herrero Cangas, policy officer at the European Center for Development Policy Management, the trends set out by the Agenda for Change — the EU’s guiding policy for programming its aid — are well reflected in the 11th EDF.

For one, EU resources are now targeted where they are most needed and can be the most effective. Indeed, most national indicative programs for the period 2014-2020 are articulated around a maximum of three priority sectors, which often are governance, sustainable agriculture and energy.

“It is striking that 30 sub-Saharan countries had transport as a priority sector in the 10th EDF, but now only Uganda, [the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Sierra Leone have it as a separate sector,” she highlighted to Devex.

But the willingness to achieve maximum impact and value for money hasn’t led the EU to sideline the use of a multifaceted and holistic aid approach. According to Herrero Cangas, priorities in current NIPs tend to be quite broad, and encompass a wide variety of policy areas.

“There are many cross-linkages and overlaps between sectors,” she said. As an example, countries like Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia have all integrated transport into sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure or energy.

Meanwhile, aid coordination seems to be off to a good start as well — another principle prescribed by the Agenda for Change.

“There has been an attempt of ensuring complementarity between the EDF and other instruments, based on an internal exercise of EU assistance and in line with joint programming [with other donors],” Andreia Oliveira, advocacy officer at DSW and member of CONCORD’s Cotonou working group, revealed.

Citing the possibility for Ebola-affected countries to revisit their priority sectors, OIiveira also sees renewed political commitment by the European Commission to demonstrate increased flexibility. In Guinea, for instance, the EU has recently adopted a more comprehensive approach that links emergency response with long-term recovery and preparedness.

More generally, situations of fragility and vulnerability seem to be given special consideration under the current EDF. In Niger, the EU’s 596 million euro (US$646 million) aid package is articulated around four sectors instead of three — social policies, security and governance, food security, and infrastructure.
SOURCE:DEVEX/PACNEWS

 WORLD

21) Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to meet in London

By Online Editor
7:46 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, United Kingdom

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) comprising foreign ministers from nine member countries will meet at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, UK, on 12 March 2015.

CMAG was mandated by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2011 to act as the custodian of Commonwealth political values. At their 12 March meeting, CMAG Ministers will consider the state of adherence to these values within the Commonwealth.

Current members of CMAG are: Bernard K Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania (Chair); Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus; Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana;  Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India;Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand (Vice Chair); Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs;Dr Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone;  Milner Tozaka, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands and  Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.

SOURCE: COMSEC/PACNEWS

HEALTH

22) Committee to stop the spread of dengue fever

Luke Rawalai
Monday, March 09, 2015

A COMMITTEE has been set up by the Commissioner Northern’s office to look into ways of stopping the spread of dengue fever.

Speaking at the Government heads of department meeting in Labasa on Friday Divisional Health Inspector North Sunia Ubitau revealed there was a need for interdepartmental collaboration to stop the disease.

Mr Ubitau said three diseases which were burdening the ministry and the region were namely dengue fever, typhoid and leptospirosis. “We need to be aggressive in controlling these diseases by working closely with the people on the ground and at present we are targeting village headmen and advisory councillors,” he said.

“The ministry cannot tackle the problem alone, we need community participation and mobilisation. Diseases do not respect boundaries as they will hit when given the environment to do so.”

Mr Ubitau said they were continuing with their campaigns into communities but this was not helping a lot.

“There are still dengue cases popping up from areas where we have cleaned and even sprayed,” he said.

“If people are stringent with the way they store their rubbish and refuse it will help a lot because this is the first step towards the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.”

Responding to the issues raised by Mr Ubitau, Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu has set up a committee to look into the issue.

Mr Bolalevu has also advised the committee to look into providing garbage collection for heavily populated suburbs like Vunivau.Fijitimes

23) Fiji hospital upgrade nears completion

9 March 2015

The President of Fiji’s Medical Association says the newly renovated Colonial War Memorial Hospital will allow for surgeries and operations that have never been performed in Fiji.

Dr James Fong says the renovation is in its final stages and the hospital is expected to be running full services by the end of next month.

In 2013, the United Front for a Democratic Fiji claimed that under the Bainimarama regime the main health facility had a shortage of drugs, not enough specialists and a lack of expertise to fix equipment.

Dr. Fong says the much needed rebuild and new equipment were funded by the government and foreign donors.

He says some of the new services include neuro-surgery and cardiac surgery.

“We have the final stages of ICU – the new ICU unit. Our operating theatres, we’ve increased from four to eight operating theatres. We are now waiting to put in some new equipment in the operating theatres and in the ICU.”RNZI

24) New Research: Leprosy Stigma In Pacific Contributes To Prevalence
Prevailing views form a barrier to treatment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – Researchers in New Zealand have found a continuing deep-seated stigma around leprosy in the Pacific, which could be contributing to an increase in the disease in some countries.

The Pacific Leprosy Foundation says the stigma is proving a major barrier to people seeking treatment for the curable disease, which has left some people needlessly disabled as a result.

Its chief executive, Jill Tomlinson, says the fact leprosy is not dangerous needs to be better communicated with people, and countries are starting to realise that.

“It’s fear is completely unfounded nowadays, there’s been a very effective cure since the 1980s, but people still have a perception that it’s a very dreaded disease.”

Jill Tomlinson says her organisation is trying to work with governments and village leaders to erase the stigma.

Radio New Zealand International

25) Landmark Meeting Between Fijian And Indian Health Ministers
Hopes for major impacts to Fijian health services

By Avinesh Gopal

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 8, 2015) – A landmark meeting between the Fijian and Indian health ministers in New Delhi is expected to see some major changes in the provision of health services to Fijians.

Speaking from New Delhi on Friday night, Health and Medical Services Minister Jone Usamate said the trip to India had been “very good so far”.

“My trip is for anything to do with health — training our people, hospital administration, pharmaceutical drugs and other things,” he said.

“I had a very good meeting with my counterpart, the Indian Health Minister (Jagat Prakash Nadda) and I visited Sahyadri Hospitals which has been providing treatment to our people in Fiji.

“I also visited other places and met some Fijians who are here for oncology treatment, which cannot be provided in Fiji.

“We will decide in future on the oncology services we can provide.”

Mr Usamate said the reason for such trips was to look at ways of improving things, saying that changes could be expected in Fiji’s health services.

“But nothing happens overnight,” he said, adding that there were other health-related things that India and Fiji were looking at.

The Fijian delegation in Mr Usamate’s visits included Fiji’s High Commissioner to India Yogesh Karan, chief pharmacist Apolosi Vosanibola, first secretary at the Fiji High Commission in New Delhi Sakeasi Waikere and the second secretary Om Prakash.

The landmark meeting was a follow-up to the bilateral talks on the health sector during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Fiji last November. Mr Usamate, who returns to Fiji this week, said India had a very good health system and service.

Sahyadri Hospitals director Professor Manu Munibhargav said from India that Mr Usamate was given a tour of the hospital group’s facilities.

“He (Mr Usamate) was quite pleased with what he saw during his visit to our hospitals,” he said. Fiji Times Online.

POLITIC

26) PNG Empowering Grassroots Through Participatory Mechanisms
Intended to be coupled with significant fiscal transfers

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 6, 2015) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the Government is changing the nation for the better by empowering grassroots people.

He told the people during the launching of the Nipa-Kutubu district five-year development plan at the Nipa government station, in Southern Highlands, that the right policies were helping people improve their lives.

“The Government is investing in districts, provinces and ward councils, which is taking service delivery to the people of our rural areas,” he said.

“Grassroots people know what is needed in their areas and they must be included in decision-making processes.

“Councillors, village magistrates and court officers are now funded by the Government. This consistency facilitates leadership and decision-making at the local level.”

The Government is building new quarters for public servants houses, addressing problems in the law and order system, providing opportunities for children to be educated and families to access healthcare.

“Provinces are now receiving almost K3 billion (US$1,102,410,000) each year for key impact projects,” O’Neill said.

“For 40 years, governments looked around for money as if we were one of the poorest countries in the world. PNG had to beg for money from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and countries like Australia.

“Now we have enough revenue, and we have proper management of how we spend this revenue for our people.”

The National

27) More females in Bougainville to contest election

By Online Editor
5:08 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Papua New Guinea

The Bougainville Women Federation has announced that a total of 21 women have so far expressed their desire to contest the three regional seats in the coming June ABG Election.

Federation president Hona Holan revealed this during their mock parliamentary debate at Buka Bel Isi Park on Tuesday last week.

She said this is a good indication that more women are getting into politics and they are hoping to get as many women as they can into the ABG Parliament in this years’ election.

Holan said the current figures for intending women candidates to contest the three regional seats include eight women in North Bougainville, seven in South Bougainville, and six in Central Bougainville.

The figures for women in South Bougainville who are intending to contest the regional seat are, current MP Rose Pihei, Jempo Matene, Isabel Beta and Benedine Neras.

In South Bougainville, Mary Mamatau and Miriam Labanoi have expressed their intention to contest the Konnou Council of Elders (COE) Seat in Buin District.

Agnes Titus will contest the Nissan COE, Rachael Kean will contests Mahari COE, Josephine Surei will contest Peit Constituency, Rita Pearson is intending to contests the Taonita Teop COE Seat and Joan Nenoan is intending to contest the Bolave COE.

Some women who have expressed interest to contest the North Bougainville Regional Seat are, current MP for North Bougainville, Elizabeth Burain, Patricia Kakapal, Lina Baii and Hona Holan.

According to the polling schedule dates the issue of writs will be on the 24 – 27 March.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

28) Fiji women voters failed women politicians

By Online Editor
10:37 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Fiji

The National Council for Women believes Fiji needs temporary special measures to increase the representation of women in parliament.

Speaking on FBC TV’s 4 The record General Secretary – Fay Volatabu claims there are many Fijians who want to see a woman leading the country.

“It is interesting, we have collected about 100 survey results and one of the very common answers that was coming along – this is unofficial is that people want a woman leader – that is quite interesting considering the election results so we are looking to when we finally finish everything that has come through. And soon after the elections when people are talking about having a Woman Prime Minister – which is one of the question that we have put through is quite interesting.”

However, special treatment – according to the Ministry of Women is not the answer.

Director Women Arieta Moceica is directly involved with the government’s policies and strategies for women.

She says women voters need to step up and give women politicians a chance rather than there being special measure introduced.

“We’ve got the laws that are so gender responsive, we’ve got the budgeting in place, we’ve got the roadmap which has a gender goal – which actually directs each government ministry to have a gender goal and an indicator within their annual corporate plan – so we have all these things in place. Women say they want women leaders but the election results don’t tell us that. Women themselves need to vote for women leaders, before we can expect men to vote for women leaders.”

Meanwhile, Fiji currently has the highest number of women representatives in parliament – 16 percent, up from 11% in 2006.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

29) Loyalists irked by New Caledonia eligibility

By Online Editor
10:33 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s three anti-independence parties are incensed at a French court ruling which says those eligible to vote in New Caledonia’s provincial elections must have been enrolled since 1998.

The three parties say the decision is betrayal of the spirit of the 2007 French constitutional reform which restricted voting rights in view of the territory’s possible referendum on independence.

The three parties issued a joint statement on the ruling amid political disagreements among them, which has left the territory without a president for now almost three months.

This comes as magistrates from France are back in the territory to vet the electoral lists in a long-running controversy, with the pro-independence camp claiming more than 6,000 people took part in the vote last year illegally.

The three loyalist parties say they will remain active and will seek the right time for a people’s response to the ruling.

The president of the territorial Congress, Gael Yanno, has written to the French President, urging him to act and not to be a mere spectator in view of the court ruling.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

LAND

30) Squatters in Vanuatu a problem for chiefs

9 March 2015

Squatters living on Vanuatu’s Efate island are again being targetted by the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs.

The council says the problem is the most urgent item on the agenda of the chiefs’ conference this year.

The Deputy Secretary General of Vaturisu, Chief George Sualo, says while most development takes place on Efate Island, land becomes an issue when squatters refuse to move out to give way to development.

Chief Sualo says Vaturisu’s 11th conference on Emau Island in May will discuss how to work with the central government to remove all squatters from development sites so that investors can create employment opportunities for young people.RNZI

31) Illegal use of land

Luke Rawalai
Monday, March 09, 2015

THE Labasa Town Council has plans to close down a service station operating within the Labasa market and to evict fish vendors operating from the same area.

This was revealed by Labasa Town Council chief executive officer Jitendra Prasad while presenting at the North heads of Department on Friday last week.

Mr Prasad said the area falls under illegally reclaimed land and they would soon evict fish sellers and the owner of the service station.

He said despite them pleading with the service station owner to remove his service station he continued to operate from the area.

“He is always blaming other fish sellers who are also operating in the area illegally,” he said.

“However we are working with the Lands Department to remove both fish sellers and the service station soon.”

Responding to the issues raised by the council CEO, Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu said the service station was a hazard as it may cause a fire in the future.

“Something needs to be done before anything big happens,” he said.

Mr Bolalevu had advised Mr Prasad to execute arrangements with the Lands Department and take legal action on the owner of the service station.

He advised Mr Prasad to see that no fish vendors operated from the area anymore as it was illegal.Fijitimes

MEDIA

32) Media Group Calls For Regional Response To NZ Spying
Commends Tonga PM for strong response

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – The media group the Pacific Freedom Forum is calling on regional leaders to speak out against the alleged spying by New Zealand.

Its Chairperson Titi Gabi says it is worrying that journalists throughout the Pacific are having their communication details collected and it may have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the region.

“The PFF’s position is that this is a worry for media workers and for Pacific Islanders in general. We just urge all our leaders to speak out against all this so called spying by the New Zealanders. This is worrying and we are not convinced that this is harmless.”

Titi Gabi says the PFF commends the Tongan Prime Minister for coming out in the strongest sense on the issue by saying it constitutes a breach of trust between the two countries.

Radio New Zealand International

BUSINESS,ECONOMY+

33) Concern in PNG over funds for logging communities

Updated 9 March 2015, 17:26 AEDT

In Papua New Guinea questions are being asked about what has happened to a multi-million dollar fund that is supposed to be used to help logging communities.

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum believes the PNG government has stripped some 130 million kina ($AUD60 million dollars) out of the Log Export Development Levy and used it to plug holes in its budget.

The levy is supposed to be used to promote development and fund infrastructure in communities affected by the logging industry.

But Senson Mark from the Eco-Forestry Forum says fears were raised after the Forestry Minister was asked about the whereabouts of the money in parliament.

Reporter: Liam Fox Radio Australia

34) Solomon Islands Government need more than five percent growth to sustain the economy

By Online Editor
5:21 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Solomon Islands

HONIARA, 09 MARCH 2015 (ISLAND SUN) — Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says government’s economic growth target of at least five per cent needs to be met if Solomon Islanders are to maintain their living standards.

Speaking to the media in Honiara Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare said the national economy needs more effort to achieve the target in 2015.

“My government is overwhelmingly convinced that the national economy needs a bigger push to achieve and sustain our economic growth prospect for 2015, ..at no less than five percent”, he said.

“With high annual population growth and inflation rates, we need to sustain our economic growth rate at more than five percent so that we can at least maintain our standard of living,” the Prime Minister explained.

He told the media that the country is facing huge challenges that this Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) government will address.

“Knowing our fundamental problems is a first and important step towards assisting us to formulate appropriate or solution-oriented development strategies.

“We must be focused on what we must do to address what are identified as hindrance to economic advancement.

“Problem is the country are many and if we are not careful we could be lost and confused and just trying to sort our way through them.

“What this country needs to do is to go back to the basics and establish whether the key .. activities are functioning to the level required to move the economy forward,” the Prime Minister explained.

He said his government is confident it will be able to graduate our country from least developed status within five years but that the task will not be easy.

Prime Minister Sogavare said DCC government strongly believes that the key task is to address poverty by building capacity and empower Solomon Islanders to achieve prosperity.

He stressed that, to achieve the objectives the country needs to open up economic opportunities, maintain socio-political stability and promote good stewardship of our resources.

Prime Minister Sogavare a comprehensive strategy is the way forward if the DCC Government is to decentralize potential development activities to rural and remote areas.

He said DCC government already recognises the strategy. It is focused on tourism, agriculture, fisheries and the forestry sector.

Prime Minister Sogavare added that there will be an increased in constituency funds to comprehend rural development strategies and create opportunities for rural communities to take part in the economic activities and economic development of the country.

Prime Minister Sogavare said his coalition government is confident the national budget to be tabled in Parliament later this month will act as positive stimulant to set the basis to achieve the country’s policy objective and priorities.

SOURCE: ISLAND SUN/PACNEWS

35) Central bank warns investors

By GERALDINE PANAPASA
Saturday, March 07, 2015

IN an unusual move, the Reserve Bank has publicly warned Fiji investors to be cautious about an Australian company advertising for Fiji investors.

According to the central bank, the company had been advertising investment opportunities through the local newspapers and promising investors huge returns of about 15 times their capital investment in high risk sectors such as foreign exchange brokerage, oil, gas and gold exchange.

“The RBF is also aware that notices of investment caution have been issued against Ecovexco Investment Group by securities regulators in British Columbia and Manitoba in Canada, where the company also attempted to solicit investment funds from the public without seeking necessary prior approval.

“Any entity or company inviting members of the public in Fiji to contribute capital to such investment ventures must first obtain approval from the RBF.

“In the case of Ecovexco Investment Group, no such approval has been granted by the Reserve Bank. Offshore investments by any individual in Fiji also require the prior approval of the Reserve Bank,” RBF said in a statement yesterday.

The central bank said contact addresses provided by Ecovexco Investment Ltd in the newspaper advertisement stated it was based in New South Wales, Australia.

“Checks with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Companies Office have revealed that the company was not registered with them,” it said.

RBF governor Barry Whiteside said the public should exercise extreme caution when making decisions on such offers of investment opportunities.

He said it was crucial for the public to first enquire about the credibility of the people behind such schemes.Fijitimes

36) Concerns over network coverage

Luke Rawalai
Monday, March 09, 2015

MEMBERS of the public and the Labasa Chamber of Commerce have voiced their concerns on the intermittent Vodafone network coverage in the region since last month.

Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Satish Kumar said majority of business owners relied on the network coverage supplied by Vodafone.

Mr Kumar said when a connection shortage happened it affected the abilities of business owners to contact their business partners.

“Communication is very important in the business sector and once it is affected it affects the productivity of any business for that matter,” he said.

“It not only affects the business sector but our communities as well.”

According to villagers in the remote parts of Bua and Macuata the network signal in their areas have deteriorated since last month.

Dogotuki farmer Dominiko Turaga said he relied a lot on his phone to contact clients he did business with to sell his yaqona.

“I would be on a call and it would just cut off because of weak network signal,” he said.

“Or we may call families and they always find it hard to hear us and I have spoken to villagers who are also facing the same problem.”

Sharing the same sentiments, Lekutu resident in Bua Rajesh Prasad said that Vodafone needed to improve their network services adding it was difficult to contact loved ones during network shortage.

Meanwhile, questions sent to Vodafone Fiji Commerce and corporate affairs head Shailendra Prasad on Friday remained unanswered.//Fijitimes

37) Rural Jobs To Fix Fiji’s Unemployment
Increase in minimum wage will help reduce poverty

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – Fiji’s Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations says rural entrepreneurship is the key to reducing the country’s unemployment rate.

Jioji Konrote says getting more people to work in the rural sector is part of the Government’s plan to reduce poverty.

Mr Konrote says the increase of the national minimum wage to $1.14 US dollars, which will become effective from July the 1st will help to reduce poverty by doubling the average pay for most workers.

Mr Konrote said private sector partnerships were also important in terms of creating job opportunities for the unemployed.

He said there were thousands of applications at the National Employment Centre to vet.

Mr Konrote says the government also has plans to reduce the retirement age to 55.

The Fiji Times reports the country’s current unemployment rate sits at 7 per cent.

Radio New Zealand International

38) Fiji unions to take government to task at UN meeting

Updated 9 March 2015, 17:25 AEDT

Fiji’s trade union movement says it’ll take the government to task at a meeting of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva next week.

Felix Anthony, general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, says the government still has decrees in place that severely restrict union rights and it has not addressed the UN body’s concerns.

The ILO’s governing body is meeting in Geneva next week and will review progress on demands it made after a team from the UN group was finally allowed to visit Fiji last year.

Mr Anthony is a member of the ILO’s governing body and says Fiji cannot continue to defying the organisation.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Felix Anthony, general secretary, Fiji Trade’s Union Congress//Radio Australia

LAW&ORDER

39) PNG’s Court backlog dating back 32 years ago

By Online Editor
10:36 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Papua New Guinea

The National and the Supreme Courts have a backlog of more than 21,000 cases dating back 32 years because of “bad lawyering”, according to Papua New Guinea Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.

The backlog continues to increase every year because of the inability of the courts and lawyers in assisting the court in conducting cases with due despatch and efficiency, Sir Salamo said.

He said the National Courts now had more than 20,000 pending cases dating back to 1983 while the Supreme Court had more than 1200 pending cases dating back to 1994.

“The hearing of cases are unduly and unnecessarily delayed for months and years,” he said during the admission of new lawyers on Friday.

“When cases are heard, they are not completed within reasonable time in that they are left part-heard and unattended to or decisions are reserve for months and years on end and list goes on.”

“It is the duty of the courts, assisted by a competent legal profession that holds key to the disposition of these cases in a timely and qualitative manner.”

Sir Salamo said the bulk of the cases that goes before the high courts are filed by lawyers on behalf of their clients and lawyers decide if the case is to continue to its conclusion or to withdraw it from the court.

“The lawyers are indeed the gatekeepers of the court. If lawyers do not do their job properly, this directly contributes to a build-up of cases or that when cases are heard, justice is miscarried,” he said. “It is my personal assessment that if it was not for poor or bad lawyering in the courts, the courts workload would be reduced by 30 per cent. Instances of poor lawyering are not hard to find,” Sir Salamo said.

He said there were instances where cases are brought to court prematurely without exhausting alternative dispute resolutions using dispute resolution procedures and forums outside the courts.

There were others where cases are prematurely or deliberately brought to court without proper consideration of their merits in order to gain some unfair advantages; cases are rushed to court without properly and fully preparing documentation in compliance with court rules of practice and procedure; cases that do not see the day of trial on the merits because far too many of them are pre-occupied with preliminary or interlocutory applications or that countless number of adjournments are sought and granted by the court because lawyers are not prepared for the case; lawyers failed to turn up in court on time or never bother turning up in court at all with a case has been adjourned with their consent or when they are duly notified of the hearing, lawyers do not assist the court in executing court orders.

He challenged the new lawyers to be competent by displaying high intellectual and practical ability their practise to assist the courts dispose cases in a more efficient and timely manner.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

40) Bougainville Elders Being Empowered To Help Bring Law And Order
Autonomous gov working with area Councils of Elders

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2015) – The autonomous government in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville is empowering Councils of Elders to curb law and order problems.

President John Momis says each Council will have the power to look after law and order in its area.

New Dawn FM reports Bougainville continues to be troubled by isolated incidents of lawlessness.

The ABG government says the elders’ help will be valuable because the province’s police service lacks capacity.

It says the involvement of the Councils of Elders will complement the police presence and help stop situations from escalating.

Mr Momis says to meet the conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement there must be law and order in the province.

Radio New Zealand International

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION,ENVIROMENT

41) Climate change ‘threatens self-determination’ of citizens in island States, UN rights council told

By Online Editor
7:53 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Switzerland

In the United Nations Human Rights Council , senior UN officials joined high-level delegates from Pacific Island States that are on the frontline of the global battle against sea-level rise to examine the potentially devastating impact of climate change on human rights.

The President of Kiribati and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu were joined by Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, who opened the discussion, telling the Geneva-based Council that human-induced climate change is not only an assault on the world’s shared ecosystem but it also undercuts “the rights to health, to food, to water and sanitation, to adequate housing and – for the people of small island states and coastal communities – even the right to self-determination.”

The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, briefed the press on the discussions, saying that continued sea level rise at their current rate, could result in low-lying Pacific Island States, including Kiribati and Tuvalu being submerged within decades.

He noted that some citizens have already been forced from their homes, while the two Governments struggle to supply people with adequate supplies of food and clean drinking water.

According to a Government minister from Kiribati who briefed the Council in January, preparations are underway for a time when climate change “refugees” might exist. The Government of Kiribati has been buying land offshore and providing people with the skills to “migrate with dignity” when their islands were no longer habitable, Colville said.

Survival is one thing but if the islands of Kiribati and Tuvalu do disappear, the spokesperson said, gone with them will be all the trappings of a modern state – Government buildings, courts, hospitals and schools. That will undermine those States’ peoples’ right to self-determination.

Their leaders will have to find ways of reconstituting their States elsewhere, or persuade another government to provide their citizens with passports, welfare and protection. If they can’t do this, these “climate change refugees” will become stateless.

“We are calling for human rights standards to be put front and centre of discussions on mitigating the negative impacts of climate change,” said Colville. “Any action designed to limit climate change must have people’s rights at its core. This should be taken into account when the UN Climate Change Conference convenes in Paris later this year to draw up a new global agreement,” he said.
SOURCE: UN NEWS CENTRE/PACNEWS

MINNING,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES

42) UN report urges dewatering of Solomons tailings dam

9 March 2015

The United Nations and the World Health Organization are calling for the immediate de-watering of a tailings dam at the closed Gold Ridge Mine in Solomon Islands, which is dangerously close to spilling over.

A researcher from the Australian National University, Dr Matthew Allen, visited the dam in January and has recently cited the much anticipated UN and WHO reports.

He says they call for immediate action and an end to a standoff between the Solomon Islands Government and Goldridge land owners with the Australian mine owner St Barbara.

“There would still be some risk there would still be some uncertainties but as far as I know, you know the reports make the point very strongly that those risks would be far outweighed by the potential environmental catastrophe that would ensue if the dam wall was to be breached.”

The ANU’s Dr Matthew Allen.RNZI

43) Petromin to shut Tolukuma mine

By Online Editor
5:19 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Papua New Guinea

The Board of Petromin Holdings Limited (Petromin) is seriously considering steps to close Tolukuma gold mine (TGM) in Goilala district.

This announcement has come following the board meeting last Friday to decide the future of Tolukuma.

Petromin board chairman Sir Brown Bai said in a statement that the decision is being considered as attempts to bring in a credible partner has not been successful.

“High operating costs and continuous subdued gold price has been a challenge for TGM and Petromin to continue with the operation and sustain the cash support required on an on going basis.

“Petromin has been losing money funding TGM for the last four years and with falling gold prices, Petromin can no longer sustain TGM,” Sir Bai said.

He says the management has been advised to consult with appropriate regulators and stakeholders before a final decision is taken.

“The Board is aware of regulatory issues that Petromin has to comply with and as a Papua New Guinean company owned by the State, we wish to be responsible in terms of meeting various compliance requirements.

“The process of consultation will commence with relevant stakeholders,” he said.

He also adds that other companies within the industry have also been affected by the price cycle and have made some tough decisions to cut back on their operational expenditure.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

SPORTS

44) PNG Hunters season off to flying start with big win over the Magpies

Updated 9 March 2015, 13:28 AEDT

The PNG Hunters have started their second Queensland Cup season in style with a big win over the Souths Logan Magpies in Brisbane.

With eight debutants in their starting line up, and already up 22-12 at half time, the Hunters ran away with the game in the second period to win by 40 points to 18.

Ever the hard man to please, coach Michael Marum, says there is still room for improvement, but it’s not a bad start for such a new look team.

Hunters media manager Martin Liri says the team is determined to improve on its away form which cost them a finals place last season.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Martin Liri, media manager, PNG Hunters//Radio Australia

45) ITM Cup snub for Pacific players

By Online Editor
8:13 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, New Zealand

New Zealand’s provinces – long-time supporters and friends of Island rugby – are not prepared to offer ITM contracts to any player they suspect could commit to a Pacific nation at the World Cup.

The unions’ stance is not illegal but it is perpetuating a problem World Rugby want to stamp out – which is forcing Pacific Island players to choose between club and country.

The pressure placed on Island-eligible players by clubs around the world to make themselves unavailable for the World Cup is a long-standing and vexed issue.

Stories have emerged at the last five tournaments of players being bullied and threatened by their clubs to not go.

There were even reports after the 2011 World Cup that some Fijians were bribed by their club, Racing Metro, to skip the World Cup.

The situation developing in New Zealand is a concern for players, agents and associations.

While everyone can see the problem from the unions’ perspective, a handful of players are likely to be left without club contracts due to their Pacific Island heritage.

Strapped for cash and restricted by a salary cap, unions say they can’t afford to take the risk of being liable for players who would miss the entire ITM Cup if they were to be called up by Fiji, Samoa or Tonga.

The World Cup kicks off on September 18 and the ITM Cup is expected to have its usual mid-August start – so with warm-up tests and training camps and the like, it won’t be possible for anyone in an international squad to turn out even once for their province.

A handful of younger, emerging players who are dual eligible and currently without a Super Rugby contract are likely to be the most affected.

Some are already on the radar of the Pacific Island nation for which they are eligible and possible selections at the World Cup.

But they want to play in the ITM Cup so they can win Super Rugby contracts and then push to become All Blacks.

Their preferred path is being blocked because unions don’t want to take the risk that the players will do what they said they were going to do.

The unions fear they will invest in the contract now and, then a few weeks before the World Cup, the player will change his mind and play at the World Cup.

Provincial unions are compensated – virtually the full amount – for any All Blacks they lose to test duty during the ITM Cup. But there is no such deal in place to cover them for Pacific Island players.

“Most of our players are on New Zealand Rugby contracts and, therefore, have confirmed their eligibility to New Zealand,” says Auckland Rugby chief executive Andy Dalton.

“But we have a couple of players who could opt to play for one of the Pacific Island nations and we would have to wear the cost of that.

“We would be liable for the cost of players and we may not get the use of them.

“I don’t think we can be expected to pay [in those situations]. We have salary cap issues and we would have a substantial cost of having them not being available.”

Dalton says the union will abide by World Rugby regulations: Auckland won’t ask any player to sign a document that says they won’t play at the World Cup.

However, he says the best way for the union to protect themselves is to simply avoid contracting players whose future circumstances have the capacity to change.

Counties Manukau are taking a similar stance to Auckland. Their chief executive, Andrew Maddock, says it’s a case of wait and see with some players in regard to offering them contracts.

Counties will hold off making offers to Island-eligible players until they have clarity about their World Cup intentions.

“We are conscious of how this is for the players,” he says. “It puts players at risk because, what if the player is injured while we are waiting to see what happens? That player won’t be secure at that point.”

Maddock says the situation is generating a level of stress and discomfort, as Counties have strong and meaningful relationships with their Pacific Island players.

“We just don’t have any capacity at all to take the risk,” says Maddock.

SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS

46) Viriviri for Hongkong 7s

By Online Editor
8:09 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Fiji

Samisoni Viriviri will join the Vodafone Fiji 7s team in Hong Kong.

National sevens coach, Ben Ryan has drafted four new players in the extended squad that will march into camp tomorrow in Pacific Harbour.

Ryan confirmed Viriviri’s spot in the 12-member team to Hong Kong as he broadens the depth in the squad, naming two more playmakers in Kitione Taliga, the Wardens Gold playmaker and Marist scrumhalf Inia Saravanua to increase the depth in the squad.

Ryan has also recalled the lanky Pio Tuwai, whose ball skills at the Marist 7s tournament was hard to ignore.

According to Ryan, Waisea Nacuqu needs to work on his fitness as Abele Yalayalatabua, the Wardens Gold winger gets the nod over Emori Waqa of Tabadamu for being one of the consistent players he has ever watched locally.

“I decided to give Abele an opportunity because he has been working hard on the island for some time now,” Ryan said.

“I have seen him many times and he is a consistent player. I have not seen many of Emori Waqa who just returned from overseas, that’s why Abele got picked.”

Ryan said he wanted to see more of Taliga at training. He added Saravanua who played club rugby in New Zealand had good set of skills and is a good defender.

Marist 7s player of the tournament, Eminoni Nasilasila and Apisai Domolailai and Josaia Wini are the other players named in the extended squad including the 12 players that featured at the Wellington and Las Vegas events.

Hideaway Hurricanes forward Peter Gus is a player Ryan wants to attend training.

“He is a promising player (Peter Gus). I will invite him over for a few days just to have a look of what he is capable of.”

Nadroga fullback Apisalome Waqatabu missed out as he was far from his usual best. The Hong Kong 7s will be held at the end of the month.

Squad:Abele Yalayalatabua, Amenoni Nasilasila, Apisai Domolailai, Emosi Mulevoro, Inia Saravanua, Isake Katonibau, Jasa Veremalua, Josaia Wini, Kitione Taliga, Manu Lagai, Osea Kolinisau, Pio Tuwai, Samisoni Viriviri, Savenaca Rawaca, Semi Kunatani, Seremaia Tuwai, Sitiveni Waqa, Vatemo Ravouvou, Viliame Mata.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

47) PRC ready for start

By Online Editor
8:07 pm GMT+12, 08/03/2015, Fiji

The Fiji Rugby Union is working closely with World Rugby to ensure the 2015 Pacific Challenge runs smoothly over the next three weeks in Suva.

Host Union Tournament Director, Sale Sorovaki says it will be a major task hosting a tournament of this magnitude and will ensure the five visiting teams from Canada, Japan, Argentina, Tonga and Samoa leave our shores with a lasting impression.

“The aim for this tournament is to deliver a flawless tournament. We have a few things we want to achieve as the host union and we want the five teams that are here to enjoy their stay and leave our shores with a true Fijian experience.”

The World Rugby Pacific Challenge kicks-off tomorrow at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Junior Japan and Canada A will get the tournament underway at 1pm,Samoa A will clash with Tonga A at 3pm before hosts, the Telecom Fiji Warriors face the Argentina Pampas at 5pm.

SOURCE: FBC SPORTS/PACNEWS

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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