Eight drunken people burst into the offices of the country’s only privately-owned daily, The Solomon Star, in the capital, Honiara, on 24 January 2002 and demanded 1,000 euros from the staff. They said they had been sent by economic reform minister Daniel Fa’afunua and accused the journalists of reporting that he had punched a taxi-driver in Honiara.
The men took the staff, including editor John Lamani, to a warehouse converted into the headquarters of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) militia where the minister, also drunk, was waiting. He took the money from the journalists and threatened them with more reprisals if they continued to publish the paper. Savea Sano Malifa, editor of the Samoa Observer and a well known Pacific region journalist, denounced on 23 February the government’s failure to arrest the minister and his henchmen.
Foreign minister Alex Bartlett asked the country’s journalists on 11 February to be patriotic and not report on the government’s internal problems so as not to give the country a bad image and risk scaring away foreign aid.
A group of people went to the offices in Honiara of the public radio station Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) on 26 May, threatened journalists and employees, smashed a glass door and damaged computer equipment. The attack came a few days after the station reported that some paramilitary police had refused to take part in a ceremony at which officers gave up their weapons. All the country’s militias were to hand them in before 31May 2003 under a 2001 peace agreement.