Yesterday, a Fijian pastor was deported to Fiji as part of a joint operation by the Vanuatu Immigration Services and the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), through the Vanuatu Interpol Unit.
On Monday, May 30th, Ishmael Kalsakau, the Deputy Prime Minister and Internal Affairs Minister, signed a Removal Order for Pastor Jone Isireli.
His removal was carried out as per Section 53A (1) (a) of the Immigration Act. He was additionally given a red stamp that stated “No Further Entry” into Vanuatu.
On Tuesday, the Pastor was arrested by police in Tanna as he boarded a chartered flight. He was flown to Port Vila and then to Fiji’s international airport for the onward journey.
Pastor Isireli from Evergreen International Church came to Vanuatu in 2015 and served as a missionary. He stayed under the Special Category Visa arrangement. Pastor Isireli’s ministry was based on Tanna.
During the COVID-19 scare, immigration officials were informed that the Fijian Missionary was allegedly telling his church’s members and the community of Tanna not to get vaccinated.
The government has put a lot of work and resources into making sure that all of Vanuatu’s eligible people are vaccinated. The government also acknowledges the right of individuals to choose whether or not to get the COVID-19 shot.
Pastor Isireli continued to organize and conduct public events through church services. Tanna was under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, which made it illegal to do so.
Despite warnings from police and immigration officials, he persisted to not follow the Minister of Health’s health regulations, the Fijian Pastor refused to listen and continued to host church gatherings.
Jeffrey Markson, the Director of Immigration, said that during the Pastor’s stay in Tanna, the TAFEA Christian Council did not support him and wrote a letter to Immigration asking them to remove him from Tanna.The Immigration Department assisted Pastor Isireli in 2021 to sort his immigration papers and gave him a Residency Visa so he could stay on Tanna, according to Mr. Markson. He was also granted a work visa, according to Markson
Mr. Markson observed that the right thing for the Pastor to have done was simply keep an eye on what the Government of Vanuatu’s Minister of Health has mandated for the protection of individuals, as distinguished from filing a lawsuit.
He stressed that Minister of Health regulations is lawful documents that must be followed by all Vanuatuans and foreign nationals.
It is strongly recommended that visitors to Mexico respect Mexican laws.