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Nauru electoral observers urged to monitor media access

"Nauru government must remember public media is not 'their' media but paid for by the public, including opposition, and foreign donors."

Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru, speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 30 September 2015
Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru, speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 30 September 2015

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

This statement was originally published on PFF's Facebook page on 7 July 2016.

Electoral observers in Nauru must include access to news media within their reports to ensure human rights are fully respected, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Opposition members have long complained they are being denied access to news media in Nauru," notes PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

"Electoral observers cannot declare elections fair and open, as they have done in the past, if there is not full and free access to all news media."

ForumSec Confirmation

As well as stopping opposition access to public media, Nauru governments have also stopped private media from setting up, and almost all foreign media from entry.

Both the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat have sent observers to Nauru for elections this Saturday [9 July 2016].

In response to a PFF question to both bodies, ForumSec has confirmed that "Media coverage and equal access to election related information is a consideration for [the] ‪#‎PIFS‬ observer team."

There was no immediate response from the Commonwealth.

Free speech

Co-Chair Monica Miller welcomed the confirmation of media monitoring by PIFS observers.

"Like most countries, Nauru has free speech rights guaranteed by the constitution, and by its membership of the United Nations, under Article 19," she says.

"The Nauru government must remember that public media is not 'their' media but is paid for by all of the public, including the opposition, and foreign donors."

PFF criticised the continued parliamentary bans on opposition members, effectively cancelling the voice of the people in the house of elected representatives.

PFF also questioned why an Australian TV crew failed to interview members of the opposition, and whether any deals were done with the Nauru government.

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