Police given 24 hours to set aside search warrant or face legal proceedings

Thornburgh Lawyers representing Indigenous Media Enterprise – IMV, owners of Yumi Toktok Stret – YTS, have served the Vanuatu Police Commissioner a 24-hour notice to set aside the search warrant issued to search Yumi Toktok Stret premises and Mr. Julian Ligo’s residence or face legal proceedings.

The search warrant was issued to search and obtain IP addresses on profiles involved in a discussion on Yumi Toktok Stret about the use of a vehicle by the current VNPF GM.

The search warrant dated 30th of May 2018 sets forth that Police Inspector Andrew Kalman is investigating certain matters of national security that require the search order.

Dane Thornburgh representing YTS owners has stated that ‘the description of an IP address is an internet protocol address which is a numerical assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the internet for communication’

IME Lawyers continued that ‘searching the two premises to find and obtain an IP address is impossible as it is not a physical matter that can be seized’.

Thornburgh also states ‘the search warrant is misguided in all it’s forms and to ask YTS to disclose information they do not own or have is a big mistake which they need to rectify or face the consequences.’

Thornburgh representing YTS owners says ‘IME have a good relationship with the Vanuatu Police and have assisted to disseminate information from the Police to the public a lot and it is really sad to see scare tactics being employed to suppress free speech by YTS members’

‘I understand there was an issue involving VNPF on YTS’ says Mr. Thornburgh ‘but for the VNPF management to use scare tactics on YTS members mentioned in the warrant is not acceptable’

Alleged leaking of information about a Vanuatu National Provident Fund – VNPF misuse of a VNPF vehicle by the VNPF management was posted on the YTS discussion site and contributors to the discussion allegedly revealed information that VNPF deemed not acceptable to them.

It is understood that the VNPF management asked Inspector Kalman to pay YTS a visit a week ago and on that visit, Mr. Julian Ligo signed a note by Inspector Kalman stating he would instruct admins ‘to not approve any more post about the VNPF GM or Managment.’

Thornburgh clarifies that ‘Ligo however never gave the instructions to the admins as he felt this would deprive the members of YTS a right to voice an opinion.’

YTS management is resorting to taking legal actions to ensure ‘free speech’ is maintained in Vanuatu and bullying tactics by authorities who feel the necessity to use the Police to scare people do not continue nor should be allowed to suppress the right of Vanuatu citizens to freely enjoy their freedom in expression.

‘About 90% of the profiles listed on the warrant are real profiles and not fakes and if the VNPF did take time to go on those profiles, they would know who these people are’ continued Thornburgh.

YTS management is also asking any YTS member affected in this drama to contact Thornburgh Lawyers on 24100 for legal support.