COOK ISLANDS – The Nauru government’s refusal to allow entry for Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalists to cover the Pacific Forum Leaders summit has been condemned by Pacific article 19 watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“The reasons provided by the Nauru government simply do not justify cutting off independent news reporting of a regional event to the people of the Pacific, by a leading Pacific broadcaster,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.
“We call on the Nauru government to reconsider this stance, and use the public complaints mechanisms to raise its concerns as stated.”
Miller said the PIF Summit gives appearances of unity among member countries but the move by Nauru to stop journalists from one member of the PIF to be in Nauru to cover the Summit is a divisive move.
She said PFF strongly urges Nauru to reconsider and for the Forum Secretariat to make an appeal to the hosts not to go ahead with the ban.
“The Nauru government states it’s exercising a sovereign right, but this is a regional event and the ABC is the public broadcaster of a Forum Member.”
“We hope Nauru government see their error and reconsider its decision to block ABC, “ Bernadette Carreon, Pacific Freedom Forum co-chair from Palau stated.
Carreon said small island nations and journalists who cannot send their reporters to regional events rely on ABC for Pacific news.
“Journalists should be able to attend important regional events like the Pacific Islands Forum, selectively barring reporters from covering the forum is not acceptable,” Carreon said.
“ABC has a right to be there and Forum leaders should be making their direct petitions to the host country on the need for ABC to continue covering the event back to Pacific nations.”