PUBLIC PROSECUTORS OFFICE

Constitutional Office
Article 55 of the Constitution provides for the Constitutional Office of the Public Prosecutor. The Article provides that the Office holder shall be completely independent from the rest of government.

The purpose of such 'independence' is to ensure that the Public Prosecutor can ensure that the rule of law is applied to everyone, be they important government officials or simple subsistence farmers. The Public Prosecutor's role is to be fair, independent and objective. The Public Prosecutor may not let his or her personal views of the ethnic or national origin, gender, religious beliefs, political views or sexual preference or an offender, victim or witness influence his decisions. The Public Prosecutor should also not be affected by improper or undue pressure from any source whatsoever.

Public Prosecutor's Act [CAP 293]
On 4 August 2003, the Public Prosecutor's Act [CAP 293] commenced operation in Vanuatu. This legislation sets out, inter alia, the roles and responsibilities of the Public Prosecutor. The purpose of the Act is to set out the manner of appointment of the Public Prosecutor and other prosecutors and the roles and responsibilities of prosecutors.

Role of Police and Prosecutor
Police investigate alleged crimes and prepare a brief of evidence that is provided to the office of the Public Prosecutor. During the investigation, the Police can seek the advice of the prosecutor as to what evidence should be obtained and whether a search warrant should be issued.

The Prosecutor has no authority to direct and investigation or tell the Police to stop investigating a crime. The Prosecutor's role in the criminal justice system process commences when a brief of evidence concerning an offence is forwarded to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the prosecutor determines whether a prosecution will brought in Court.

Decision to Prosecute
The decision whether to prosecute rests with the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

There are two stages in the decision to prosecute. The first stage is the evidential test. If the case does not pass the evidential test, it must not go ahead albeit how important or serious it may be. If the case does pass the evidential test, the Public Prosecutor must decide if a Prosecution is needed in the public interest.

A full description of the evidentiary test and the public interest test may be found in the "Prosecutions Policy of the Office of the Public Prosecutor" a publicly available document published by the office.

For more information please contact

Port Vila Office: Office of the Public Prosecutor
PMB 9035
Port Vila
Phone: +678 22271

Street Address Melitco Building (Opposite the Ombudsman's Office)
First Floor
Port Vila

Santo Office: Office of the Public Prosecutor
PMB 35
Luganville
Phone: + 678 37123

Street Address: Opposite Santo Court house
Luganville