Last week, Vanuatu Journalist, Dan McGarry, was in Brisbane for the Melanesian Media Freedom Forum (MMFF) – a gathering of senior journalists committed to ensuring the continued existence of media freedom in Melanesian and Pacific.
It has been a rough time for Dan. As Director of the Vanuatu Daily Post and Buzz FM, Dan has been the subject of a government harassment that has seen him removed from his job and barred from returning to Vanuatu.
After attending the Brisbane meeting, he was not allowed on the outbound flight to Port Vila. The instructions, he was told, came from Vanuatu immigration. Dan’s home IS Vanuatu. His family is from Vanuatu. His wife was allowed on the flight
Dan has traced the reason for his removal and subsequent barring to a series of reports critical of the Vanuatu Government.
As a member of the Melanesian Media Freedom Forum, I am joining my colleagues in calling on the Vanuatu government to allow Dan McGarry the dignity and respect he deserves.
It is important that media freedom in Melanesian is protected by our ELECTED governments. Any attack on members of the media is an attack on the freedom of expression of the people.
We have seen attacks on media freedom in Papua New Guinea, West Papua, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The increasing attacks and veiled intimidation is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by inaction and passive silence.
Melanesian governments cannot pay lip service to international conventions and commitments to democratic freedoms and in the same breath issue orders to clamp down on journalists right to expression.