KIRIBATI: Blocked newspaper seeks legal advice on government inaction
Sunday, June 24, 2012
MELBOURNE (Radio Australia / Pacific Media Watch): The Kiribati Independent newspaper has stopped publishing while a government-ordered investigation is carried out.
Police visited the newspaper's offices on Monday following complaints from the Ministry of Communications that the publisher had breached newspaper registration guidelines.
The publisher and editor of the Kiribati Independent, Taberannang Korauaba, said he believed the move was politically motivated.
Korauaba said reporters had been too intimidated to work, and the newspaper could not operate under such "difficult" circumstances.
He told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the Kiribati Independent would cease publication until the investigation was completed.
"We don't want to be caught in the middle of debate, that's why we stopped to allow the police to investigate and if they have a case they can take it to the court and we'll take it from there."
Korauaba said the newspaper's management was seeking legal advice on the government inaction over registering the paper.
The Pacific Media Centre, based in New Zealand, called on the Kiribati government to rectify the situation so the newspaper could continue publishing.
The organisation's director, Professor David Robie, said the investigation may be politically motivated.
"It would be a big disappointment if the Kiribati Independent wasn't able to resume publication as soon as possible. I think it's [a newspaper] of great benefit to the country and also freedom of debate and freedom of expression."
Last Tuesday, the Paris-based media freedom advocacy organisation Reporters Without Borders reiterated a request to Kiribati Communications Minister Taberannang Timeon, to grant a publication licence to the Kiribati Independent under the Newspaper Registration Act.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.