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27 February 2023, 12:29pm
Media Release

AFP assist Vanuatu Police investigate Chiefs Nakamal fire

Editor’s note: Images of AFP members assisting Vanuatu Police available via Hightail

Two AFP forensic members have assisted Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) investigate the cause of a fire that destroyed the Chiefs Nakamal, the custom Parliament for Vanuatu’s Chiefs.

VPF Commissioner Colonel Robson Iavro formally requested AFP assistance following the fire in Port Vila on 30 January 2023. The AFP deployed within 24 hours.

The AFP forensic members worked to establish the cause of the fire. Working alongside the VPF, investigators filtered through and cleared the scene in search of evidence.

Samples of ash and burnt debris are now being tested in Australia to determine if any traces of accelerant can be found.  

Commander Pacific Melinda Phelan said the AFP was willing and ready to assist its Pacific neighbours in their time of need.

“The AFP has strong relationships across the Pacific and we are ready to offer resources to work alongside our counterparts as needs arise,” Commander Phelan said.  

“The AFP team worked very closely with their VPF counterparts and shared their experiences with the VPF forensic team on advanced aspects of fire investigation as they worked side by side.

“It is encouraging to hear the AFP’s support was well-received and appreciated, and we hope follow-up forensic testing will aid the VPF’s ongoing investigation.”

“The VPF appreciates and values the strength of the relationship with the AFP whether this be through support with investigations or with support the AFP has provided over the last 3 years in repose to COVID-19 and with the number of natural disasters the VPF has had to respond to,” said Commissioner Iavro.

VPF Commissioner Iavro recently visited the AFP Majura Police Complex and met with AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and Commander Phelan.

Commissioner Iavro observed a demonstration by the AFP’s Tactical Response Team and toured the AFP’s Forensics Facility.

Commissioner Iavro thanked the AFP for recognising the significance of the Chiefs Nakamal to the ni-Vanuatu by providing a quick response in providing assistance in investigating the cause of the fire.  

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