The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins
with the Pacific Freedom Forum in expressing disappointment that a Vanuatu cabinet minister received only a small
fine after pleading guilty for his part in a brutal assault on Vanuatu
Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones.
minister Harry Iauko was fined VT 5,000 on one charge and VT 10,000 on another (a
total of around 150 USD) on June 30 after he entered guilty pleas to aiding and
abetting the March 4 assault on Neil-Jones at the Daily Post premises in Port Vila.
men sentenced along with Iauko received fines of up to VT 100,000 for their
roles in the group attack.
Under Vanuatu law the
sentence for this kind of assault, where no permanent damage is caused to the
victim, can attract a prison term of up to 12 months.
“The IFJ is
disappointed that this senseless attack has resulted in relatively lenient
sentences, imposed after extensive delays to the legal process,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We are also
concerned by reports that charges of unlawful assembly, unlawful entry and
criminal trespass against the minister were dropped after he entered a not
shares PFF’s concerns about comments made on July 4 by Deputy Prime Minister
Ham Lini to Radio New Zealand International
noting he felt media had 'exaggerated' the case, which wasn't serious because no-one
had died in the incident.
The IFJ will
support the move by PFF to bring this matter before the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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