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Nauru suspends three opposition members for speaking to media

The Parliament in Nauru must immediately lift its suspension of three opposition members, stated the Pacific Freedom Forum on 18 May 2014.

"Constitutional freedoms of speech include the right for citizens to speak to any news media, anywhere, at any time," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi. "The government in Nauru is deeply mistaken to suggest that its elected representatives lack these same rights."

Opposition MPs were suspended for criticising the Nauru government's refugee centre and revoking visas for the country's top judges.

Speaking from Port Moresby, Gabi says that Nauru is in a difficult position. "PFF shares the deep alarm expressed by ordinary citizens of Nauru and calls for steps to be taken to ensure their voices are heard, considered, and acted upon."

PFF co-Chair Monica Miller says that government claims against the opposition MPs shows the dangers of a lack of information.

"Governments in Nauru have long denied open access to the public broadcaster . . . Lack of scrutiny has contributed to a situation where the government apparently believes it can do no wrong."

Miller says the Nauru situation reinforces the dangers of cutting back on regional news sources, such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We welcome the call by the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Biship, for Nauru to recognise that robust public debate underpins democratic development."

"But it is not enough to say the words, they must also be acted upon."

PFF has previously called for independent news from public broadcasters in the Pacific Islands to be given higher priority in regional development efforts.

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