Last week (16th -21st of November 2009), Port Vila residents was given a week-long opportunity to learn and be kept informed about the judicial system and the law of their Country. The Law Week (as it is known) was organized by the Judiciary in conjunction with USP Law School and other relevant institutions. It was a great opportunity where legal information were directly put before the general public rather than from within the usual confinement of the offices.

Stalls were erected for various Government legal departments and the other institutions such as Transparency International, USP Law School, etc. The aim of this event is to keep their citizens informed about their judicial system, its functions, how it operates and about their laws. The general public came out and learned about the roles and purposes of offices such as the Public Prosecution's office, Public solicitor's office, Attorney General's office and the other institutions.

It was an eye-opener for those who might have known nothing or little about the judicial system and the law of their Country.

"I did not know that there exists a law which disallowed me to make a claim after 6 years," said an elderly man referring to the Limitation Act. He had been patiently waited for 16 years for his debtor to repay his money. Despite his situation, his knowledge about the law is enhanced. He learned two important things: firstly, he now knows that any claim of such nature must be brought within a time frame of 6 years. Secondly, he knows that ignorance of law is not a good defence in a lawsuit.

Presentations were made by invited speakers and the people were given time to ask questions, make comments, give their views or make criticisms. People were just craving from all corners for the microphone that was passed to the audience. Time was just not enough. "Time i short tumas," a man I stood beside complained after the question time was up. He persistently trying to get the microphone but was unfortunate as time did not permit him.

The positive impact of this event is undoubtedly great. You can just see the appreciation of the people through their attendance and the eagerness to know more. For many, the event enlightens their doubts and misconceived perceptions of the law. For the nation, it was an event that educates the people most importantly about their Rights under the law.

I asked some friends who are members of the staff within our Government's various legal departments if we ever have this kind of events. Their answer is negative. (Correct me if this is wrong). I envy so much the positive impact the Law Week brings to the people of Vanuatu and wish event of this kind is organized for our people.

Chris Rarumae
Port Vila
Republic of Vanuatu