IFJ calls on Nauru President Baron Waqa revoke ban on ABC journalists

Picture: RNZ / Brad White

SYDNEY, 06 JULY 2018 (IFJ) — The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has issued a letter to President Baron Waqa of Nauru urging him to reconsider the ban on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to cover the Pacific Forum Leaders meeting in Nauru in September.

On Monday, July 2, the Nauru Government announced that it would block the ABC from covering the upcoming Pacific Island Forum.

In the letter, IFJ president Philippe Leruth said: “The role of the media is to hold those in power to account with free and fair reporting. However, decisions such as these violate the basic universal principles of press freedom and only go to harm the image of Nauru on the world stage.”

“The IFJ is concerned that such a refusal to grant a visa to a member of the Australian media pool sends a terrible signal internationally about press freedom in Nauru – particularly at the very time when the world’s attention will be focused on the work of the Pacific Island leaders as guests of your country. Such undermining of press freedom standards to a major public and regional broadcaster by your government before such a significant global audience is a dangerous step that would reflect poorly on Nauru well beyond the Asia-Pacific, and is an act of censorship,” said the IFJ.

Following the decision by President Waqa, the Australian Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery said that the media pool, which was to include an ABC staff members would be disbanded, saying: “If one cannot go, none will go” and “We stand for a free press, not a banned one”. In addition, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the New Zealand Parliamentary Press Gallery, and the Daily Post in Vanuatu have said that they will not participate in the Forum….

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