17 Mar 2016

Seven arrested for attack on woman in Vanuatu

4:46 pm on 17 March 2016

Police in Vanuatu have arrested seven men over the abduction and beating of a woman who criticised the behaviour of local transport providers on Facebook.

The men were all employed in the public transport sector, including the president of the Vanuatu Land Transport Association.

It was alleged they were involved in the abduction on Sunday after the woman had criticised the transport operators over they way they squabbled while seeking fares among tourists disembarking from cruise ships.

A cruise ship departs Port Vila harbour in Vanuatu.

A cruise ship departs Port Vila harbour in Vanuatu. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

Vanuatu police said the men, who were on bail, could face charges of kidnapping, intentional assault, threatening and unlawful assembly.

According to the Daily Post newspaper the woman, Florence Lengkon was forcibly abducted from her place of employment in downtown Port Vila on Sunday by a group of men believed to be public tranport providers.

She was reportedly taken to a separate location where she was surrounded by more men who demanded she apologise for her post then verbally abused and assaulted her.

Prior to the incident the victim had joined a public Facebook forum discussing the squabbling among public transport providers and tour operators over fares for tourists from cruise liners that frequent Port Vila each week.

Ms Lengkon's post, which was one of many on the page, had described the behaviour of local drivers, which included the stoning of a tour operator bus, as arrogant and unprofessional.