YAREN, NAURU, TUESDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 2018: TVNZ journalist Barbara Dreaver has been released after being detained for three hours in Nauru, with no charges filed.
The TVNZ Pacific Correspondent was detained by police earlier this afternoon, and was let out just before 5pm after extensive questioning, with her accreditation revoked.
Dreaver is in Nauru covering the Pacific Islands Forum, which Nauru is hosting.
She was detained by Nauru police while interviewing a refugee, about 1pm on Tuesday.
“I was interviewing a refugee which we’d been told we could do so if we had their permission,” Dreaver said.
“The police showed up and wanted to see my visa, said I was breaching my visa conditions. I was taken to the police station….As far as I’m concerned I was doing my job.”
Dreaver said her visa is still in place but her accreditation to cover the forum has been revoked, meaning she couldn’t go to any press conferences or use the media centre. She could still report on forum issues.
TVNZ Head of News John Gillespie said it was still unclear why Dreaver was detained.
“Barbara’s safe – we’ve spoken to her and she’s in good spirits considering her ordeal. The fact she was stopped from doing her job raises major concerns about media freedom.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was pleased Dreaver had been released.
“I was alerted to Barbara’s situation by the Deputy Prime Minister this afternoon and in the intervening time I have spoken with my officials, including my foreign affairs advisor about this. Once in Nauru I will seek more advice about the situation,” Ardern said.
“This Government believes in freedom of the press, throughout the world, and of course that includes the entire pacific region.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Dreaver was released with no charges filed.
Dreaver’s cameraman – who was not with her when she was detained – told TVNZ the pair had been interviewing refugees at a camp when security staff asked if they had permission to film. He said this exchange was civil and the pair agreed to leave and seek written permission from the Government.
It was later when Dreaver was interviewing another refugee that she was detained, he told TVNZ.
Dreaver is TVNZ’s Pacific correspondent and has been detained in the Pacific before.
“It wasn’t a huge drama, I’ve had huge dramas before, and this wasn’t one of them,” Dreaver said.
Nauru has developed an increasingly authoritarian attitude to the media, barring the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from covering the forum because of negative coverage of the Government in the past.
Other countries were only allowed to send three journalists, while New Zealand was able to send seven.
The visa given to journalists has a condition that the reporters can only report on the forum and related events – not other matters.
Nauru hosts an Australian detention centre which holds more than 900 refugees, including 100 children.
Amnesty International’s Meg de Rone condemned the action.
“Amnesty International’s research on Nauru showed that the conditions for people who have been banished there by Australia amount to torture under international law. Children are self-harming and Googling how to kill themselves. That cannot be swept under the carpet and it won’t go away by enforcing draconian limits to media freedom.”