Vanuatu Journalist Released After Arrest for Online Comment

Media Release: Vanuatu

May 8, 2013              


The International Federation of Journalists joins is affiliate the Media Association Vanuatu (MAV) in condemning the actions of the Vanuatu authorities who detained veteran journalist Gratien Tiona this week. 

According to reports, Tiona was detained by police overnight and faced serious charges including seditious publication and terrorism, for a comment he posted on Facebook on April 20th.  Initial reports that the complaint was made by the Prime Minster were proved to be false.


Police released Tiona on May 8th and all charges were dropped after a delegation from MAV spoke with the Public Prosecutor and discovered that the complaint against Mr Tiona was not issued through the proper processes and his arrest was therefore illegal. 


MAV President, Mrs Toa, said, "The arrest of Mr Tiona raises big questions in the new media environment where anyone can make a public comment, but where there are not the same filters and checks as are in place in traditional media. We have just celebrated World Press Freedom Day last week, with the theme of 'Safe to Speak'.  And this week we were faced with a situation where a journalist was arrested for a public comment, albeit in his capacity as a private citizen.”


The IFJ joins the MAV in welcoming the release of Mr. Tiona but warns against any action taken against journalists by Vanuatu authorities which could threaten media independence in the country.


The MAV and IFJ call for further dialogue within the media community on the norms of ethical and responsible journalism and urge journalists to use the MAV Media Code of Ethics as a guide



For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

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