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Helped by thugs, Vanuatu minister beats up newspaper publisher

Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones was brutally attacked in Port Vila, the capital of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on Friday last, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported. Neil-Jones accuses infrastructure and public utilities minister Harry Iauko of organising and participating in the assault, which was took place in the journalist’s office.

Neil-Jones said he was attacked and beaten in his office by a total of eight men including Iauko, who accused him of writing “bad things” about him. His newspaper has published articles criticising the minister’s handling of various issues. It has also raised questions about Airports Vanuatu Ltd, an aviation company that works closely with the government. After leaving Neil-Jones unconscious on the floor, Iauko went to editor Royson Willie and said to him: “Do you want me to break your face?”

Neil-Jones has filed a complaint against the minister. On Sunday he said: “I can’t think of many countries where a minister of state would survive long if he marched into a national newspaper with a gang of thugs employed within the ministry and assaulted the publisher of a national daily paper because he didn’t like the valid criticism he was getting from all quarters, including the newspaper, members of the public through letters to the editor and Transparency International.”

The publisher was previously attacked on January 17, 2009 by four police officers employed by the prison department. They were arrested but the investigation never established who was behind the attack.

“Threats and acts of violence against a journalist who is just doing his job are unacceptable,” RSF said. “We warn Prime Minister Sato Kilman that his credibility will be questioned if this goes unpunished. We urge the police to carry out an exhaustive investigation without delay and we urge the prime minister to do everything possible to ensure its success. Otherwise he will be regarded as an accomplice to violence by a member of his government.”

Date posted: March 8, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 397