New Zealand Law Society - Time to speak out on Nauru situation, says Law Society

Time to speak out on Nauru situation, says Law Society

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The rule of law is seriously under threat in Nauru and the Nauruan government’s recent actions need to be highlighted, the New Zealand Law Society says.

“The Law Society considers it is time to speak out because democracy is quickly vanishing in one of New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours,” Law Society Rule of Law Convenor Austin Forbes QC says.

“Nauru has expelled five of seven opposition MPs from its parliament. The government has unashamedly admitted this action was for speaking to foreign media. Three of the MPs are now facing criminal charges for their involvement in a protest. One, Roland Kun, was taken off a flight bound for New Zealand and his passport has been cancelled.

“Over the last two years Nauru has sacked and deported a Magistrate. He had issued injunctions restraining the government from deporting two residents without giving any reasons. The Government also refused to allow its Chief Justice to return to the country from vacation.

“More recently the Nauruan government shut off access to Facebook by citizens of Nauru and amended the criminal code to create an imprisonable offence of threatening public order and other restrictions on freedom of expression and the press in Nauru.”

Mr Forbes said the situation in Nauru was fast becoming intolerable.

“Interference with the independence of the judiciary, the arrest of elected members of parliament, expulsion of citizens who protest and other curbs on freedom of expression and the right to access information. This cannot continue. Nauru has to restore human rights,” he said.

“There has been widespread criticism of the situation in Nauru from other quarters, including the New Zealand Government, the United Nations and the European Union.”