A female journalist from
 the Daily Post was subjected to intimidation by Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) staff while carrying out her duties to cover the verdict of Parmod Achary, the General Manager (GM) of VNPF.

The incident occurred outside the courtroom at Dumbea yesterday when a male VNPF staff member approached her and told her not to photograph GM Achary.

“Do you want me to slap you?” the VNPF staff member threatened the journalist. This intimidating behavior towards the reporter is not an isolated incident, as she had previously been threatened by another male VNPF staff member during Mr. Achary’s trial at the Dumbea Court House.

The second staff member approached her and questioned whether she intended to take photos.

During the court proceedings, Mr. Achary appeared with a substantial delegation, including senior staff and security personnel.

Lillyrose Welwel, the President of the Media Association Blong Vanuatu (MAV), emphasised that such intimidation of the media is unacceptable in a country like Vanuatu, where press freedom is valued by its citizens.

Mrs. Welwel underscored that Mr. Achary, as the GM of a prominent institution in the country, is facing serious allegations that warrant public awareness through media coverage of the court proceedings.

She said while it is prohibited to take photos inside the courtroom while court is in session, the restriction does not apply to capturing images outside the chamber.

Mrs. Welwel appealed to VNPF staff to allow justice to take its course in Achary’s case, given the charges of indecency and breach of the Leadership Code, and urged the media to fulfill its role. Yesterday, the court found Mr. Achary guilty of 10 charges related to indecency and breach of the Leadership Code. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 2, 2023.

This incident is not the first time journalists have faced intimidation within court premises.

In the early 1990s, a journalist from Radio Vanuatu was physically assaulted by civil servants during a hearing on the legality of a strike. Similarly, a journalist from the Daily Post was threatened by a politician at the Dumbea Court House during the 2015 corruption and bribery trial involving 14 Members of Parliament.