Last week we looked at 2 more of your 11 Rights under the Constitution of Vanuatu. This week we will briefly look at 2 more of these rights and what they mean.

The Right toFreedom of Assembly and Association

This is the right that every citizen of this country has to hold public meetings and to form associations without interference by the government. It is implied in this right that the freedom to assemble or gather is a freedom that must be exercised peacefully.

This means that you do not need anyone’s permission to belong to or follow a political party. You are free to join a trade union and neither your government nor your employer can prevent it. If they do, they would be committing an illegal act as it would be in breach of the Constitution. You can therefore join or belong to any group or association of your chose. No one can force you to join a trade union, political party or other association and no one can force you to protest.

Can this right be restricted?

Like everything in life there are always restrictions if the exercise of your rights is likely to cause harm to others or to the country. Instances when a government can restrict those rights are:

  • Protect national security or public safety
  • Prevent crime or public disorder
  • Protect health or morals
  • Protect the rights and freedoms of other people

Any government that takes a decision to restrict this freedom can only do so if it is appropriate and necessary to deal with the issue.

The Right toFreedom of Movement

This right allows you to move freely within Vanuatu. It means the freedom to choose where you want to live in Vanuatu and it means the freedom to leave Vanuatu at any time and to re-enter the country if you are a citizen.

This right can be restricted for the reasons of:

  • Security of the country
  • Public order
  • Public health and public morals
  • Protecting the rights and freedoms of others

Types of persons who could be restricted in their movements around Vanuatu would be:

  • Persons convicted of crimes and sent to prison.
  • Persons on parole after being released from prison.
  • Non-citizens with visa conditions that might restrict their movement, e.g. not able to travel out of the country within 90 days of receiving the visa.
  • Non-citizens to be deported for breach of visa conditions and restricted in their movements within the country.

Examples of instances when movement can be restricted could be:

  • Denial of access to areas of environmental significance.
  • Denial of access to earthquake or quarantined zones, e.g. the government could move citizens from Ambae due to the volcanic activity and prevent them returning until it was deemed to be safe.
  • Denial of unrestricted access to private homes.
  • Denial of protest in a particular area for security or other reasons.
  • Curfews put in place for citizens during times of civil unrest.

This series on Know Your Rights will be continued in the next issue of the Daily Post.

DISCLAIMER – this is a legal column to provide basic information on the law and court procedure. It is not to be used as a substitute for legal advice but to be used only as a starting point in understanding what you might need and what you might need to do.  


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