Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

By Bob Makin in Port Vila

Vanuatu’s Public Service Commission is forbidding government workers from accessing social media, Radio Vanuatu News reports today.

This was decided in a meeting April 29.

The Vanuatu Public Service Commission letter yesterday banning social media for government workers. Image: Vanuatu Daily Digest

In an advisory note, the Acting Secretary of the PSC, Jacques Gedeon, says public servants will no longer have access to unspecified social media sites, and all requests must have the approval of the PSC Secretariat before the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) enables access.

Vanuatu Daily Digest objects strongly to this position of the PSC — social media are an important public sphere for debate in the country.

The memo is also vaguely worded, and does not specify how “social media” is defined nor what sites are to be banned.

Many civil servants in Vanuatu lack the means to purchase newspapers, others find it difficult to have radio coverage at appropriate times.

Furthermore, as we have discovered in recent years, both the broadcasting corporation and governments have at times decided to terminate transmissions at certain levels to save costs.

A Right to Information Bill is before Parliament and a blanket censorship of this kind should not be allowed by either the Public Service Commission or the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the more so because of the Prime Minister’s stated commitment to provide information to all and wherever they may live.