An Australian-led military operation restored order and enabled local journalists to work in better conditions. The international press was able to cover the peacekeeping operation freely. The militia chiefs who had threatened the press were imprisoned.

The regional military operation "Helpem Fren," launched in July 2003 with the international community's approval, restored calm to the Solomon islands after five years of ethnic violence. The main armed militia chiefs, who had threatened and attacked journalists in the past, were arrested. Reporters Without Borders did not register any obstruction to the work of the foreign – especially Australian – journalists who came to cover the military intervention, in which more than 2,000 soldiers from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea took part. The local press, which is not yet very developed, welcomed the regional military presence.

Police blocked access to the international airport in the capital Honiara on 21 July to prevent foreign and local journalists from witnessing the loading of a cargo plane with 200 dolphins that had been caught by local fishermen for export to Mexico. Regional animal defence organisations were very critical of the sale. An Australian radio station reported that Sydney-based journalist Ingrid Leary and Fijian cameraman Frank Atu were briefly detained for arguing with security officials over the decision to bar the press, and their camera was seized. Guards kicked out at a TV crew from New Zealand to make them leave.

Honiara mayor David Dausabea burst into the newsroom of the local daily, the Solomon Star, one day in September and demanded that it stop questioning his policies. He threatened to ban any article that criticised the city hall's budget or real estate contracts. He also demanded that the newspaper's journalists reveal the names of those who had provided information or views on these issues.


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