6 Jan 2003

Vanuatu government's new kava laws may be unconstitutional

5:32 pm on 6 January 2003

A former MP in Vanuatu, Pentecost Island paramount chief, Vincent Boulekone, is vowing to challenge the constitutionality of new legislation governing who can farm kava.

The bill, which was passed by Parliament at the end of last year, but is yet to be signed into law, bars all mixed race and naturalised citizens from farming kava.

They will be allowed to deal in kava, but will have to buy it from ni-Vanuatu farmer, who will hold exclusive rights to farm the crop.

Len Garae reports from Port Vila.

"Mr Boulekone who is a lawyer said the bill is unconstitutional and goes against the constitutional rights of half-castes and naturalized citizens."

He said all mixed raced people and naturalized people living in the country are allowed the same rights under the constitution as the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu.

He says if those groups of people are allowed to farm other crops and cattle then the bill discriminates against them when it comes to kava.

The government bill has been introduced to block off a handful of successful half-castes and naturalized citizens who have been kava farmers and exporters for the last ten years.