19 Jan 2009

Media freedom in Vanuatu compromised by assault on newspaper publisher

1:24 pm on 19 January 2009

The publisher of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper says an assault on him at the weekend appears to have been retribution for the publication's coverage of ongoing problems at the country's main prison.

Police are investigating an incident in which Marc Neil-Jones sustained a broken nose and a black eye as well as kicks to his body an attack, he alledges were by four police officers, employed at Port Vila's Correctional Service Centre.

Mr Neil-Jones says the officers accused the Daily Post of not getting their side of the story in articles about ongoing prison escapes, and the recent editorial calling for the sacking of the head of Correctional Services, Joshua Bong.

"They kept referring to that and they were referring to what are we going to do now? Who is going to look after the prisoners? so it was obvious that they had known that Bong was going to be removed. And they were drunk. But the main concern is that these were police and VMF [Vanuatu Mobile Force] officers who had done this."

Marc Neil-Jones says his newspaper stands by its stories about Correctional Services.