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NEW VT4 BILLION COURT HOUSE
Out of the ashes of the burnt out former “Joint Court House” will rise a brand new, modern Court House Complex worth Vt4 billion that will include both tradition and modern touches to welcome everyone.
This is in line with the Government’s recommitment to replace the once ‘colonial historical landmark’ that was burnt down seven years ago.
On the fateful night of June 7, 2007, criminals successfully carried out the unimaginable by razing the entire historical built-of-timber landmark including every historical legal record in the archive.
While struggling to come to terms with the national loss, the Chief Justice hinted at a replacement of the former court house with a new building to reflect local tradition and a people-friendly appearance so that ni Vanuatu people would not feel intimidated or afraid to enter the building.
Now a Project Management Group consisting of Government Ministers, First Political Advisers, Directo Generals, Directors, Court Representatives and Kramer Ausenco as Project Manager under the Prime Minister’s Leadership is “reaffirming its commitment to recommence work on the Vt4 billion Supreme Court Hall of Justice Building Project which has been halted for some time now”.
The Prime Minister said in his official remarks, “Our priority is that the Hall of Justice must be built. The pride of our country is our Judiciary and it must be professionally housed”.
After the tragedy of 2007, the Government engaged development partners to proceed with the recovery phases:
• Phase One – Relocation of the Supreme Court Office
• Phase Two – Consolidation of court and office operations – equipment and furniture. Both phases have been completed.
• Phase Three – Involves the rebuilding of a new Supreme Court Hall of Justice. This current phase is ongoing.
The Government is reaffirming its commitment to continue with the work and fundraising for the project with three fundamental goals:
• Firstly to provide to the people of Vanuatu a Hall of Justice that symbolises the supremacy of the Rule of Law.
• Secondly to house the Judicial & Administrative Headquarters of the Judiciary which is one of the three Arms of Governance in our Democracy.
• Thirdly to enhance the Judicial Services to the people not only in Port Vila but also in other urban centres and the six Provinces of the country.
The Prime Minister continued, “The Judiciary services have been deeply affected due to the current facilities ever since the court building was burnt down”.
The Prime Minister continued, “The Judiciary services have been deeply affected due to the current facilities ever since the court building was burnt down”. This was confirmed by Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek in a recent meeting and has called on the current Government of Vanuatu to build the Supreme Court Hall of Justice as a apriority.
The Design Philosophy and the Governance Structure and the overarching goal or purpose of the Supreme Court Hall of Justice Project in Port Vila remains as:
• The respect of rule of law and
• The rights and dignity of every citizens of Vanuatu.
This goal is in line with the Government’s revised priority Action Agenda (PAA) that was launched on September 6 of 2013 at the Prime Minister’s Office of improving the standard of living of the Vanuatu’s population specifically, the respect for the rule of law for all the people of Vanuatu and increase the judicial services to the people of Vanuatu.
The Government then completed the tender process in 2009 and awarded the contract out of five shortlisted companies to Whitefield McQueen Irwin Aisop (WMIA) on the basis of a design and build approach. Due to the project design escalation cost and to help the Vanuatu Government to cut down on cost, the Vanuatu National Provident Fund meeting has resolved that the company will complete the design only and the construction part will be tendered in the near future.
The design of the building which is in the process of finalisation will cater for the following:
• Respect for the land and vegetation
• Social Structure and customs and fundamental values of our communities
• Self-Administered Justice System
• Island Courts to International Courts
• Commercial Trials and Appeals
• Customary views of Justices and influences of condominium period
• Build for a 50 to 100 years
• One-stop Court Complex
• Technologically capable
• Environmentally responsible
• Adaptable to change
• Respect for human rights
• Maximum use of local materials
• Allow for space for air movements in and around building
• Allow for outdoor spaces as organising device for court house
• Reflect traditional patterns of arrival, waiting and entry to places.
The Government is currently in discussions with WMIA with a view to having the designs completed before the end of this year to enable Government to tender out the construction of the Hall of Justice. Given current judicial services the Prime Minister has given the PMG a very tight schedule to work by.