6 Apr 2010

NZ judge leaves Vanuatu amid reports of threats

9:59 pm on 6 April 2010

A New Zealand judge based in Vanuatu has suddenly left the Pacific nation, 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 a police paramilitary unit, the Vanuatu Mobile Force.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully said on Tuesday officials decided it was best for the judge and his family to take a holiday to New Zealand until they can be sure of his safety in Vanuatu.

Justice Dawson left at the 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.