Pacific Media Watch

5 June 2020

VANUATU: Airport security force journalist to delete NZ repatriation photos

A convoy transporting repatriated Vanuatu citizens from New Zealand to their quarantine quarters in the capital of Port Vila. Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

PORT VILA (Vanuatu Daily Post/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): A Vanuatu Daily Post journalist was forced to delete all photos of a repatriation aircraft’s arrival in Port Vila from New Zealand, captured outside the domestic perimeter fence this week.

“Delete all photos – you have no right,” an Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) security officer ordered the journalist on Wednesday, reports the Daily Post.

The AVL security demanded that he watch while the journalist deleted the photos.

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An officer from AVL had previously approached the members of the press and informed them that his boss had agreed that they were allowed to wait just around the security point where they could take photos of the buses as they left the international terminal to take the passengers to quarantine dude to the global covid-19 pandemic.

Later, a police officer notified the AVL staff of a briefing on Wednesday morning that prohibited access to anyone inside the area including media.

Earlier this week, Daily Post journalists had sent an email to authorities seeking permission to take photographs of the arrival of the repatriation flight.

An email from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) on Wednesday morning said media were not authorised to cover the event.

No media permission for airport
“This is to inform you that the NDMO Director did not give permission to any media — including the Public Information Team at NDMO – to cover the arrival of the repatriated citizens today at the airport,” the email stated.

The Daily Post expressed disappointment at how members of the media fraternity, including the Post, had been treated at the airport. Protests were posted on the Daily Post’s Facebook group and via an email to the NDMO.

“Why prevent photographs being taken by journalists and ordering them to delete photos taken when we already have photos being shared on social media of the same repatriated passengers inside the Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft and outside the aircraft?” the Post asked.

“Media should be allowed on the tarmac but standing at an acceptable distance, and if NDMO wants us not to show faces on photos or videos, we can reach an understanding on that.

“The media is a partner in this whole exercise to document it and put out the right information to the people and should not be excluded.

“Let us all work together to get the right information to the people as we have done in the beginning of the State of Emergency until now.”

Vanuatu has had no reported cases of the covid-19 coronavirus.

The Pacific Media Centre has permission to republish Vanuatu Daily Post stories.

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