6 Apr 2010

Vanuatu coroner's abrupt departure

8:01 pm on 6 April 2010

A New Zealand judge based in Vanuatu has suddenly left that country, following reports of threats against him and his family.

Justice Nevin Dawson, who has been acting as Vanuatu's coroner, has been living under tight security after releasing a report strongly criticising the police paramilitary unit, the Vanuatu Mobile Force.

Amanda Strong reports.

"A spokesperson for the minister of foreign affairs, Murray McCully, says officials decided it was best for Justice Dawson and his family to take a holiday to New Zealand until they can be sure of his safety in Vanuatu. It is unclear when he will return. Justice Dawson left Vanuatu over Easter weekend, after reportedly cancelling social engagements at the last minute, telling friends he had just 24 hours to pack to return to New Zealand. His departure comes just weeks after the release of his report accusing the Vanuatu Mobile Force of placing itself above the law."