1 Aug 2019

Tuvalu police ordered to arrest anyone who obstructs airport

1:51 pm on 1 August 2019

Tuvalu's High Court has ordered police to arrest anyone who tries to obstruct the country's international airport.

Funafuti Airport Terminal in Tuvalu

Funafuti Airport Terminal in Tuvalu Photo: Tuvalu Government Media

It comes after a group of Funafuti landowners blockaded Tuvalu's only runway over a land lease dispute.

In June, a group representing around 50 landowners cancelled a lease agreement with the government and used two trucks to block a flight from Fiji.

The incident and the dispute are now the subject of a civil case in the High Court, which issued a provisional judgement two weeks ago.

In it, Chief Justice Charles Sweeney said the landowners had violated the lease agreement by terminating it with no notice given.

He says the airport blockade likely posed a "significant sovereign risk" to Tuvalu and ordered the police commissioner to detain anyone who interfered with flights.

The judgement also ordered police "to remove by any means necessary any obstruction on the runway".