IFJ Dismayed by Minimal Penalty for Perpetrators of Vanuatu Assault

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.


Seven other

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

guilty plea.”



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.




For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919



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