Constitutional Provisions

The 1980 Constitution of Vanuatu (as amended) protects fundamental human rights, including to life, liberty, security of the person, protection of the law, and freedom from inhuman treatment.S. 5(1), 1980 Constitution of Vanuatu (as amended).The rights to life and freedom from inhuman treatment are non-derogable.S. 71(1), 1980 Constitution of Vanuatu (as amended).These rights may be enforced by application to the Supreme Court.S. 6(1), 1980 Constitution of Vanuatu (as amended).

The Constitution recognises the freedom of assembly, subject to any restrictions imposed by law on non-citizens and to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and to the legitimate public interest in defence, safety, public order, welfare and health.

The Constitution does not refer to the nation's police force.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties

1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Vanuatu Police Force is a small law enforcement agency headquartered in the capital, Port Vila.

According to the 1980 Police Act, any member of the Vanuatu Police Force "may use all such force as may be reasonably necessary in order to prevent crime or to effect or assist in effecting a lawful arrest".

No specific legislation governs the use of firearms by law enforcement officials. Under the Police Act, members of the Force "shall be entitled for the performance of their duties to carry arms which shall only be used on the instructions of the Commissioner or of a senior officer authorised by him and in accordance with the general directions of the Minister".

Use of Force in Custodial Facilities

Vanuatu has reported that the Corrections Department has developed a Use of Force Policy "that is in alignment with human rights standards and reviewed its operational manuals and Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) to comply with the United Nations Minimum Standards on places of detention". The amended Corrections Bill stipulates that:

A staff must not use force when handling a detainee unless: (a) he or she is ordered to use force .; or (b) it is used for self -defence; or (c) a detainee attempts to escape; or (d) to prevent a detainee from damaging any property of the centre; or (e) a detainee physically resists an order provided under this Act.

A staff must use reasonable force that is necessary and fair in the circumstance in which the force is required to be used and must immediately report any incident to which force is being used to the correctional centre manager and the Director.

Police Oversight

There is no dedicated and independent external police oversight body in Vanuatu.



The 2014 Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Vanuatu did not raise issues regarding police use of force. In research by UNICEF, however, cited in the United Nations report for the UPR, police officers reported that they administered corporal punishment in 2% of cases per month where children committed a crime.Summary on Vanuatu prepared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN doc. A/HRC/WG.6/18/VUT/3, 7 November 2013, para. 16.


There is no regional human rights mechanism governing acts by law enforcement agencies in Vanuatu.


In its report for the 2014 UPR, Vanuatu acknowledged that, with respect to its police: "There are still needs for further improving awareness on human rights issues and international human rights conventions in Vanuatu. "


1980 Constitution of Vanuatu (as amended)

1981 Penal Code

1981 Criminal Procedure Code of Vanuatu (as amended through 2003)

1980 Police Act

Bill for the Correctional Services Amendment Act (2018)