Pacific Media Watch

9 August 2013

NAURU: Media gagged again - 'to avoid confusing people', claims state

Hero image
Newly elected Nauru President Baron Waqa ... fears the opposition's viewpoints will "confuse people". Image: Joanna Olsson/NauruGIO

AUCKLAND (Radio New Zealand International / ABC Radio Australia / Pacific Media Watch): For the second time in two weeks, the Nauru state media has been stopped from covering opposition criticism of government policies.

At the weekend, the Nauru President, Baron Waqa, signed an agreement with Australia’s Kevin Rudd to settle refugees on the island. The opposition subsequently raised questions on how the country would manage to house the new refugees. 

The government, however, said allowing the opposition to raise concerns about the deal would confuse people.

Opposition Leader Mathew Batsiua has said since the announcement, confusion has reigned supreme and he blames this on the government.

“That is because the government has had mixed messages, mixed responses to the public about exactly what the deal will entail, will involve," Batsiua told Radio New Zealand International.  

"So we are as confused as everyone else and this [the opposition view] will not add to the confusion, this is trying to get answers from the government so everybody can be aware exactly what they have signed up to because, quite frankly, it looks like the government themselves don’t know what they have signed up to.”

Resettle permanently
Under the new deal, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat can now be processed in Nauru and, if found to be genuine refugees, can be resettled there.

The news of the signing has not been well received in Nauru, and has led to statements by the government contradicting President Baron Waqa's announcements made while in Australia signing the agreement.

Nauru's opposition has also said that the new asylum policy was approved without proper consultation.

According to Mathew Batsiua, an interview he did with Nauru Media about the recent refugee riot at the Nauru detention centre was censored. The detention centre was burnt to the ground in the riot and caused damages of $60 million. 

Batsiua questioned the government's handling of the situation in the censored interview. 

"The reason given was that, because it will further confuse the people," Batsiua told Radio Australia on why that interview was censored.  

"There is a lot of confusion, but that confusion has stemmed from the fact that the government has contradicted themselves on numerous occasions on this policy."

Nauru's government has confirmed the interview was censored, but neither the President nor acting president was available for comment. 

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

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