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.


Government 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.”


The IFJ 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


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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