The Vanuatu government has refused to renew the work permit of its largest newspaper’s long-serving director, Dan McGarry, in what he said was a “straight up attack on the media”.
After 16 years in Vanuatu, McGarry’s application to renew his work permit was refused on Thursday, meaning that McGarry, whose spouse and children are from the country, will have to leave Vanuatu.
McGarry, who is Canadian, said he believed he was being forced out because of the paper’s critical coverage of the government and accused the government of misusing administrative processes for political means.
McGarry said in a statement that the “overt reason” his visa had been refused was that his position should have been “localised” – filled by someone from Vanuatu – by now, adding: “But we all know the real reason: the Daily Post reporting on the government’s activities caused such discomfort that they are willing to abuse administrative processes to silence me.”
“In July the prime minister summoned me and berated me for my ‘negative’ reporting. ‘If you don’t like it here’, he told me, ‘go home’. But Vanuatu is my home.”
McGarry said he had met with Daily Post executives and was lodging an appeal against the decision.
He told Guardian Australia there was nothing unusual about his application and had expected it to be approved – as one was for a Fijian employee just two months ago.
“Our contention is that this is an illegitimate process,” he said. “It’s a straight up attack on the media.”
“The rejection to me was copied to the minister of internal affairs. He has no business being involved in any of these decisions. So why is he being copied if he’s not been part of the process from the beginning?”
The Vanuatu government has been contacted for comment.
In July the Daily Post broke the story of Vanuatu deporting six Chinese nationals – four of whom had obtained Vanuatu citizenship – without due process or access to legal counsel.
“Under a veil of secrecy, China has convinced Vanuatu to enforce Chinese law within its own borders,” the story opened.
McGarry said he was “quite confident” it was that series of reports which had upset the government. Read more
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN