Vanuatu 1980 Constitution (reviewed 2013)

Table of Contents


PART I. Fundamental Rights


  1. The Republic of Vanuatu recognises, that, subject to any restrictions imposed by law on non-citizens and holders of dual citizenship who are not indigenous or naturalised citizens, all persons are entitled to the following fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual without discrimination on the grounds of race, place of origin, religious or traditional beliefs, political opinions, language or sex but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and to the legitimate public interest in defence, safety, public order, welfare and health-
    1. life;
    2. liberty;
    3. security of the person;
    4. protection of the law;
    5. freedom from inhuman treatment and forced labour;
    6. freedom of conscience and worship;
    7. freedom of expression;
    8. freedom of assembly and association;
    9. freedom of movement;
    10. protection for the privacy of the home and other property and from unjust deprivation of property;
    11. equal treatment under the law or administrative action, except that no law shall be inconsistent with this sub-paragraph insofar as it makes provision for the special benefit, welfare, protection or advancement of females, children and young persons, members of under-privileged groups or inhabitants of less developed areas.
  2. Protection of the law shall include the following-
    1. everyone charged with an offence shall have a fair hearing, within a reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court and be afforded a lawyer if it is a serious offence;
    2. everyone is presumed innocent until a court establishes his guilt according to law;
    3. everyone charged shall be informed promptly in a language he understands of the offence with which he is being charged;
    4. if an accused does not understand the language to be used in the proceedings he shall be provided with an interpreter throughout the proceedings;
    5. a person shall not be tried in his absence without his consent unless he makes it impossible for the court to proceed in his presence;
    6. no-one shall be convicted in respect of an act or omission which did not constitute an offence known to written or custom law at the time it was committed;
    7. no-one shall be punished with a greater penalty than that which exists at the time of the commission of the offence;
    8. no person who has been pardoned, or tried and convicted or acquitted, shall be tried again for the same offence or any other offence of which he could have been convicted at his trial.


  1. Anyone who considers that any of the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be infringed may, independently of any other possible legal remedy, apply to the Supreme Court to enforce that right.
  2. The Supreme Court may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions, including the payment of compensation, as it considers appropriate to enforce the right.

PART II. Fundamental Duties


Every person has the following fundamental duties to himself and his descendants and to others-

  1. to respect and to act in the spirit of the Constitution;
  2. to recognise that he can fully develop his abilities and advance his true interests only by active participation in the development of the national community;
  3. to exercise the rights guaranteed or conferred by the Constitution and to use the opportunities made available to him under it to participate fully in the government of the Republic of Vanuatu;
  4. to protect the Republic of Vanuatu and to safeguard the national wealth, resources and environment in the interests of the present generation and of future generations;
  5. to work according to his talents in socially useful employment and, if necessary, to create for himself legitimate opportunities for such employment;
  6. to respect the rights and freedoms of others and to cooperate fully with others in the interests of interdependence and solidarity;
  7. to contribute, as required by law, according to his means, to the revenues required for the advancement of the Republic of Vanuatu and the attainment of national objectives;
  8. in the case of a parent, to support, assist and educate all his children, legitimate and illegitimate, and in particular to give them a true understanding of their fundamental rights and duties and of the national objectives and of the culture and customs of the people of Vanuatu;
  9. in the case of a child, to respect his parents.


Except as provided by law, the fundamental duties are non-justiciable. Nevertheless it is the duty of all public authorities to encourage compliance with them so far as lies within their respective powers.