In the wake of the arrest, detention without charge and deportation of six Chinese nationals last week, the governments of Vanuatu and China owe the public some answers:
1) What were the names of the six people who were arrested, what have they been charged with, and what will happen to them now they’re in China?
2) Who were the 11 Chinese law enforcement officials, what agency or organisation do they belong to, under what authority were they present in Vanuatu, and what role did they play in the arrest, detention and deportation of the six detainees?
3) Why were the six detainees held in the CCECC’s Prima compound during the days between their arrest and deportation? Who requested this arrangement? Were Chinese police actively guarding or interrogating the detainees?
4) Were the six detainees given access to legal counsel, and were they given the opportunity to appeal the revocation of their citizenship and passport?
5) In 2017, the Acting Director General of Foreign Affairs assured the public “that nothing like what took place in Fiji recently would happen in Vanuatu, when seventy-seven people, said to be suspects in a massive online fraud syndicate, were rounded up in Fiji and flown to China.” What policy, regulatory or legislative changes have since occurred that made this operation acceptable today, when it clearly was not back then?
While partial briefings have been provided by the Government of Vanuatu, these questions remain unanswered.
The Chinese Embassy has failed to respond to repeated requests for information and comment.
These answers are fundamental to our democracy. Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done. If everything is being done by the book, then the Governments of Vanuatu and China have nothing to fear from providing answers.