Sexual Offences in Vanuatu under the Light of Custom and Law: “An Avenue for Restorative Justice”
This paper will focus on the Republic of Vanuatu’s society and customs relevant to this topic. I will consider the laws made by the legislature to deal with sexual offences in Vanuatu and how they are being implemented or enforced. I will also discuss the different provisions under the law whereby accused persons have an option to actually compensate the victim of the offence and how it is being used in Vanuatu in relation to sexual offences. This paper will also look at how Vanuatu’s culture influences the prosecution or the sentencing of sexual offences or dealing with such crimes in the first place. This will reveal whether Vanuatu’s customary approaches to sexual offences actually support the state’s laws to punish such offenders and if a more fair and just process is needed where the voices of the offender as well as the victim are heard. Custom usually does not allow the victim to speak, and the victim’s parents and the elders of the community decide how the offender should be dealt with. Neither the formal court process nor the customary reconciliation process seem to take into account the wishes and interests of the victim and the offender. The flaws within the legal system and customary laws in addressing victims’ and offenders’ issues will be examined and an alternative process of restorative justice will be discussed.
KeywordsVanuatu Sexual offences Custom Cases Restorative justice Penalties
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