18 Feb 2019

Vanuatu officials accused of abuse of power amid corruption claims

11:04 am on 18 February 2019

An anti-corruption activist in Vanuatu says the country's Public Service Commissioner abused her power while investigating corruption allegations.

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Photo: 123RF

The commissioner, Murielle Meltenoven, was one of two officials last week to push for criminal charges against people who alleged her recruitment process was unfair.

Ms Meltenoven, who has pledged her office won't tolerate corruption, summoned three of her accusers to a Port Vila police station last Monday.

One of her accusers, Andrina Thomas from Vanuatu group Women Against Crime and Corruption, said they were interviewed by a panel including Ms Meltenoven.

"This is abuse of power, it's not her role to be rounding up people. It's the police's role once a criminal case is lodged for the police to actually summon people down to hear the statements."

On Friday morning, Dr Thomas and her colleagues, Antoine Malsungai and Joseph Alick were again called to the police station for a bail hearing, said Dr Thomas.

She has lodged a police complaint alleging unfair recruitment processes by the Public Service Commission.

Women Against Crime and Corruption also filed a separate complaint alleging the chair of the commission, Martin Mahe, ordered officials to hack into their Facebook chat groups. Mr Mahe has denied the claims.

Mr Mahe, Ms Meltenoven and their spouses have filed complaints with police claiming defamation and unlawful discrimination by at least five people, including Dr Thomas, Mr Malsungai and Mr Alick.

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