Pacific Media Watch

20 May 2012

KIRIBATI: Communications Ministry blocks Kiribati Independent

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Publisher and editor Taberannang Korauaba ... legal confusion over the publishing law. Photo: PMC

TARAWA (Kiribati Independent / Pacific Media Watch): The Ministry of Communications has ordered Kiribati Independent newspaper to cease publication immediately - for the second time.

The latest instruction was received on Friday.

The newspaper's online edition today quoted ministry spokesman Ruatu Titaake as saying affidavits had been received from the publisher and printer.

But he said:  “... This never meant to allow you to publish KI newspaper straight away while your application for registration is still being processed.”

Ruatu said the publisher should have been aware of the provisions in the Newspaper Registration Act that all newspaper publishers should be properly registered before making any publication.

“In accordance with those provisions, you have been instructed to cease the publication of Kiribati Independent and to follow the proper procedure for KI registration. Despite this instruction, you have published several KI newspapers without proper authority and continue to do so until your last issue on 4 May 2012. 

"With your continual ignorance to the procedure, I regret to inform you that the ministry still does not recognise the publication and advise the publisher again to cease the publication of KI immediately and to await proper registration."

Legal confusion
Publisher and editor Taberannang Korauaba, who lives in New Zealand, said there was a lot of confusion.

“The law requires us to deposit our affidavits - we have done that," he said.

"Then they asked us about the stamp of a New Zealand solicitor. Now they have instructed us to cease publication.

“There is hidden agenda and political motive in this instruction,” he said.

In December 2011, the ministry advised the publisher to wait while the newspaper's application to register was processed.

The lawyer acting on KI’s behalf advised the publisher there was no need to wait for the decision.

The lawyer said the publisher, editor and printer were required by law to deposit their affidavits.

The newspaper could publish once these affidavits had been deposited.

Kiribati Independent will seek legal advice on this latest instruction.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie called on the Communications Ministry to speed up the registration process to enable the Kiribati Independent to publish and be distributed again as soon as possible.

"The unreasonable delays give an unfortunate impression that the authorities are being obstructive and seeking to gag an independent publication."

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons