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Vanuatu: Fine imposed on minister for attack on journalist

A risible fine of 15,000 vatu (120 euros) has been imposed by a court in Port Vila, the capital of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on infrastructure and public utilities minister Harry Iauko on July 8 for a physical attack on Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones in March, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

“It is unacceptable that a government minister should get off with such a small fine for assaulting a journalist who criticised him,” RSF said. “The fine is not commensurate with the gravity of the crime and sends the wrong signal to all of Vanuatu’s journalists. We call on the courts to review this sentence in order to protect the media. Failure to do so would encourage journalists to censor themselves.”

Neil-Jones was attacked in his office on March 4 by a total of eight men including Iauko. According to Neil-Jones, the minister accused him of writing “bad things” about him, alluding to articles criticising the minister’s handling of various issues and alleged embezzlement by Airports Vanuatu Ltd, an aviation company that works closely with the government.

The seven other men involved in the attack were given fines of up to 1,000 dollars.

Date posted: July 13, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 25