To inform the public during these uncertain times, newsrooms and freelance reporters across the country have made the pandemic coverage a priority. We have never seen a story that has so many twists and turns to it as the COVID-19 and the citizens’ repatriation.

The intensity of interest and the way the stories have been presented are quite massive. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 in terms of accuracy of information has not been easy. It is a make and break moment for the Media.

As part of the coverage, our reporters highlighted the struggles of the stranded during the past months and the repatriation is to the media a major step and public need to know the arrivals are eventually happening because any misinformation will mean the public’s trust in the media and Government is on the line.

We have been calling on the Government to provide the support to Media and Media officials with means necessary to carry out their tasks as the forth pillar of democracy instead of barricading and threatening our reporters, confiscate and force us to delete the photos in the name of safety and so-called security.

The confiscating and deleting of images captured by the Daily Post photographer of the repatriation aircraft comes as a shock to us.

The action was without a clear reasoning and a clear contradiction to the declaration by the UN Secretary General Dr. Antonio Guterres on the importance of the Media in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

We take this as nothing less than a clear infringement of the Freedom of Media and the right to Information.

Media Association of Vanuatu

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