(PINA/IFEX) - On 7 August 2001, the Pacific news service PINA Nius Online reported that Nauru has refused to allow Agence France-Presse (AFP) South Pacific correspondent Mike Field to enter the country in order to cover next week's sixteen-nation Pacific Islands Forum summit.
PINA Nius Online reported that the PINA Secretariat in Fiji is urgently asking the Nauru government why Field was not allowed into the country to report on the regional meeting. AFP advised PINA that Nauru authorities had not explained why Field was being refused entry to Nauru. Field has extensively covered Nauru's tax haven banking problems and alleged banking links to the Russian mafia.
AFP said that the secretary for foreign affairs in Nauru, Angie Itsimaea, sent a fax telling the agency that Field had no media accreditation. AFP quoted the fax as saying: "I wish to advise that permission for you to enter Nauru was not granted. Hence, your application for media accreditation to cover the Forum which is being held in Nauru would now not be possible."
Last year, when Nauru's neighbouring Central Pacific nation, Kiribati, hosted the annual Forum summit, Kiribati also refused to allow Field in to cover the summit (see IFEX alerts of 10 October, 11 and 5 September 2000). At the time, Kiribati authorities said AFP was welcome to send a journalist but specified that they would not allow Field to enter Kiribati.
Kiribati imposed an "Unwanted Immigrant" order on Field, a New Zealander, in 1999 (see IFEX alert of 29 November 1999). Rikiaua Takeke of the Office of the Beretitenti (president), said Field was "responsible for writing unfair, untrue, and derogative stories about Kiribati and the Kiribati people. The ban is also made for his own security since many locals may attempt violence against him while in Kiribati."
Kiribati authorities were angered by Field's reports on the country's development problems, including the environment on the heavily populated main atoll of Tarawa. Field had also reported on problems confronted by a group trying to establish Kiribati's first independent commercial radio station (see IFEX alerts of 9 May 2000, 9 December and 21 September 1999) and the presence of a Chinese satellite tracking station in Kiribati.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat officials stressed in 2000 that media accreditation and immigration matters for Forum meetings are decided by the host country.
Pacific Islands Forum members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.