Group Attack on Journalist, Editor Threatened in Vanuatu

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins with the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in

condemning a brutal attack by a group of men on Vanuatu Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones

on March 4 which was allegedly organised by cabinet minister Harry Iauko.

Neil-Jones was left shaken and with visible injuries after

he was struck to the head from behind, kicked, and strangled by his attackers during

the brazen assault at his desk inside the Daily

Post office, the newspaper reported on March 5.

Iauko allegedly led the group of men into the office and screamed

abuse and threats during the assault and threatened the newspaper’s editor

Royson Willie with assault. The Daily

Post also reported that a government vehicle was used

to transport the attackers to the newspaper’s premises.

The Daily Post report said the assault was linked to reports the newspaper carried recently

about the minister’s handling of land issues, the Airports Vanuatu Limited

board suspension and other issues.

“The IFJ is outraged and disgusted by a government minister’s

alleged involvement in a violent attack against journalists in Vanuatu,”

IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline

Park said.

“The Government must act decisively and suspend Harry Iauko

until a full and independent investigation into the assault is conducted –

there should be no doubt left that this brutal behaviour is tolerated by anyone

inside Vanuatu’s


Neil-Jones intends to press charges against the Iauko

because he was the one who could

have stopped the men from going into the Daily Post office to assault, but instead Iauko stood right

next to him and watched the assault taking place,” the March 5 report said.

PFF denounced the attack, with chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea

calling on leaders to “uphold the rule of law, not take it into their own hands

and turn to vigilante justice."

Auckland-based Pacific Media Centre condemned the

assault, calling on Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s government to sack the

minister and to rigorously investigate the attack.



further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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