7 Apr 2011

Vanuatu watchdog group says Iauko should be suspended

8:14 am on 7 April 2011

A watchdog group in Vanuatu says a government minister who's been charged for his alleged involvement in an assault should be suspended.

The State Prosecution Office says the Public Utilities Minister, Harry Iauko, will appear in court today on charges of inciting and abetting the assault on the Daily Post publisher, Marc Neil Jones, and of unlawful assembly.

The Prime Minister's office says the courts must now make a judgement before the government can act against the minister.

But Transparency International Vanuatu president Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says it could be a long time before there's a verdict in the case and action should be taken now

"Because in our public service rules if someone is accused of some wrongdoing they are usually suspended. So I would expect that the same rule should apply to a top executive, a politician, a minister, that if he's charged basically what automatically should happen is that he should be suspended from his duty."

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says there's no law preventing the government from taking action before there's a conviction.