Vanuatu govt may look for a foreign police chief
The Vanuatu government plans to look overseas to fill the vacant police commissioner's post, but Transparency International says in the long term the post will have to be held by a local.
The Vanuatu government is to look overseas for a commissioner for its troubled police service.
Last week the acting commissioner, superintendent John Taleo, was removed from the post with colonel Robson Iavro put in the position temporarily.
Mr Taleo had been clinging on to the post since being convicted last year of causing an accident in his official car while under the influence of alcohol.
Transparency International Vanuatu's chairman Dr Willie Tokon says Vanuatu police, including its para-military arm, the VMF, have been in disarray for some time.
WILLIE TOKON: It is not looking very good because you know Mr John Taleo was convicted before but the last government had some trust in him so they kept him there, but the general feeling is that the police are very divided. At least two groups or more, so having a local person in that position of responsibility, commissioner of police, is very difficult right now because of the political division among the police members, and also there appears to be a lot of political influence over some of the people with authority in the police force.
DON WISEMAN: The government is looking at perhaps hiring someone from overseas. Do you see that as the right way to go?
WT: Well it worked for a while in Fiji with a foreign commissioner of police, but again the government has to make sure there is no political interference in the technicalities of running the police force, like promoting junior officers to become senior officers overnight, promoting people who are not performing to positions of authority there because they have allegiance to the government or a minister - that doesn't help. So yes, as I said in Fiji it worked for a while when they had a foreigner in there but at the end of the day we need somebody who is local, who knows the police's politics so he can stay out of politics. We need somebody with principles. Right now we don't have anyone who can exhibit that kind of quality to run the police here.
DW: Several years ago a New Zealand judge was in Vanuatu and was acting as coroner, and drew up a report on a prisoner who died in custody. He was highly critical of police and he essentially that many in the police, particularly in the VMF, see themselves as above the law, so besides this question of political interference there is something else eating away at the heart of Vanuatu police, isn't there?
WT: Yes it seems that way but these people behave like that because they feel protected. They feel like nothing can be done to them. If we have people who have principles, who follow the law - never mind who you are, if you are a brother, a cousin, you must, as long as you are working in the police, follow the rules, the laws of the land. These people who do not [do that] they think they are protected, that is why they do that.
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