Nauru authorities detain TVNZ Pacific reporter for interviewing refugee

TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver … a respected Pacific correspondent who has reported the region for many years. Image: TVNZ screenshot

By RNZ Pacific

New Zealand journalist Barbara Dreaver has been detained by authorities in Nauru while covering the Pacific Islands Forum summit, reports Television New Zealand.

TVNZ said Dreaver was conducting an interview with a refugee when detained by police early this afternoon.

READ MORE: TVNZ reporter released after being held 4 hours

An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was with Dreaver but TVNZ reported that it was unsure of her whereabouts.

The Nauru government had limited the journalists covering the summit and placed restrictions on those who got approval to go, limiting who they could talk to and what issues they could discuss.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was also banned from covering the Forum summit after the Nauruan government accused the public broadcaster of “continued biased and false reporting” about the country.


This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

From rags to riches to rags again – the Forum’s hidden cost for Nauru

A child in Australia’s Nauru detention centre. Image: SBS/World Vision

ANALYSIS: By Dr Crosbie Walsh

Nauru hosts the Pacific Islands Forum — whose membership includes Australia, New Zealand and 16 Pacific Islands nations — from today until Wednesday when lofty ideas may help soften present realities.

The island, 56km south of the Equator and thousands of kilometres from anywhere else, is 21 km in size and its population is 11,000, 40 percent of whom have type 2 diabetes, 90 percent are unemployed and 94 percent obese – the highest rate in the world.

The island’s recent history is one of rags to riches and rags again.

READ MORE: Nauru faces media, security pressure ahead of Pacific Islands Forum

For most of the past century millions of tonnes of phosphate from bird droppings were mined and exported as fertiliser to Australia and New Zealand, leaving much of the area barren.

In 1970, the British Phosphate Commission handed over control to the Nauru government. Mining increased, briefly making Nauru the second most wealthy nation on earth based on GDP per capita, second only to the United Arab Emirates.


Most of the phosphate was extracted through strip mining which leaves the earth largely barren, infertile, and unable to sustain plant life.

Currently, about 90 percent of the island is covered in jagged and exposed heaps of petrified coral, which is unsuitable for both building and agriculture. Additionally, runoff from mining sites has left the water in and around Nauru severely contaminated.

About 90 percent of Nauru is covered in jagged and exposed heaps of petrified coral … unsuitable for both building and agriculture. Image: CWB

Marine pollution
Researchers estimate that approximately 40 percent of the marine life has been lost due to this pollution. Additionally, the only remaining phosphate on the island would not produce a profit if mined.

In 1989, Nauru took Australia to the International Court of Justice over its actions during its administration of Nauru, and particularly its failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining.

An out-of-court settlement rehabilitated some of the mined-out areas. By 2000 no marketable phosphate remained.

An out-of-court settlement rehabilitated some of the mined-out areas on Nauru. By 2000 no marketable phosphate remained. Image: CWB

In 1993, the government won a legal case against Australia for its mismanagement. The reparations have been used for restoration projects, one of which is a detention centre for more than 1000 refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

Some have called Nauru an Australian “client state.”

Since then, the political and economic situation has worsened. The phosphate trust fund was mismanaged (thanks largely to the influence of a modern beachcomber) and most of its assets lost.

Corruption is reported as rampant. Searching desperately for an income, government
briefly facilitated and condoned money laundering, and now relies heavily on aid and income from the Australian refugee detention centre where conditions have been reported as “akin to torture”.

Disturbing report
This BBC report on the effects on refugee children is especially disturbing.

Both governments have kept the injustices perpetrated against these refugees quiet by limiting access to the island.

A media visa costs $8000, taking pictures inside the detention centre is forbidden; so is carrying a smart phone with a camera.

In 2015, Australia passed the Australian Border Force Act, which makes speaking out about the conditions inside its camps on Nauru, and Manus in PNG, punishable by a two-year prison sentence.

It will be interesting to see how both governments, and other members of the Pacific Islands Forum, including New Zealand that benefited greatly from Nauru phosphates, handle questions over the next two days — and whether the NGOs present ask the right ones.

Dr Croz Walsh is a retired development studies professor at the University of the South Pacific. In his blog, he comments on New Zealand, Fiji, and Pacific Islands issues of political and social interest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nauru faces media, security pressure ahead of Pacific Islands Forum

Nauru President Baron Waqa addressing the media before opening the Pacific Islands Forum. Video: PI Forum Secretariat

By Gia Garrick, Political Reporter of RNZ National

Regional security and other pressing issues like climate change will top the formal agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru this week.

But leaders will also be confronted with the situation facing refugees in Australian-run camps on the tiny island, living just kilometres from forum events.

The Nauru government has already started a pre-emptive PR campaign, with its president blaming Australian advocates for the plight of refugee children.

New Zealand says it is an issue that will be raised at the forum. However, Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not be there to hear it. He has decided not to attend, and has sent newly appointed Foreign Minister Marise Payne in his place.

Winston Peters plans to meet with Payne while in Nauru, and it will be the first time the pair have sat down together in their respective foreign minister roles.


The Pacific Island Forum comes just months after Peters launched the new government’s so-called “Pacific reset”.

He and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Samoa, Niue, Tonga and the Cook Islands in March, announcing a raft of increases to aid and development funding.

Broader region
But this forum is an opportunity for the pair to meet with leaders from around the broader region.

“Well I’ll have a chance to meet a lot of them on the way over, and some of them I’ve been talking to very recently. So that’ll be more than half of them. And I’ll get the bilateral with Marise Payne,” Peters said.

Ardern had initially indicated she would like to meet with some of the refugees, but said it was something she had since thought long and hard about.

“I’ve given a lot of thought to this,” she said. “I do have a short amount of time there, but I do want a perspective from those who are residents on Nauru.”

She plans to reiterate New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees from across Nauru and Manus Islands.

“But if I meet with individual refugees, how do we decide who they would be? Does that raise an expectation that I then can’t fulfill for them as an individual?

“So those are some of the things weighing on my mind.”

One day visit
Ardern will be there for one day only, flying to Nauru early Wednesday morning for the leaders’ retreat, which is considered the most important day of the forum.

Leaders are expected to sign a new regional security declaration at the conclusion of these talks, which Peters said would cover off a number of emerging challenges facing the Pacific.

“There’s human security, there’s environmental and resource security, transnational crime and cyber-security challenges – all of which are part of this declaration.”

National’s foreign affairs spokesperson Todd McClay said he hoped the cohesive nature of the Pacific Island countries was addressed first and foremost by Peters.

“It’s very important that he talks to Fiji and gets them to withdraw their claim from a year or two ago that Australia and New Zealand should leave or be thrown out of the Pacific Island Forum, with the view that we are not really Pacific countries.

“We are, we’re good neighbours, and for us all to move forward there needs to be a clear dialogue around that.”

When it comes to any plans to meet with refugees or raising issues of human rights, McClay said New Zealand could stand firm on its independent foreign policy.

But he warned against any moves that may destabilise its relationship with Australia.

Australian ‘protection’
“Fundamentally when it comes to refugees, the Australian border does provide some protection to New Zealand. So that refugees on boats don’t make the arduous journey down to New Zealand which is very, very risky.

“So ultimately he must be very diplomatic in this.”

But the pressure is already on Nauru, even before the leaders arrive.

Refugee advocates have been increasingly vocal in their criticisms of the conditions the refugees continue to live in and about the way they are treated.

They also say the government there is cynically trying to pretty up the place, with mouldy tents which have housed refugees for years being pulled down just last week.

Media coverage has also been a contentious topic ahead of the forum, with limits put on the number of journalists attending and guidelines around reporting in place.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media