NZ Journalist Detained While Interviewing Refugee On Nauru
Nauru says her media accreditation has been revoked.
A journalist from New Zealand has had her accreditation to cover the Pacific Islands forum revoked by authorities on Nauru, after interviewing a refugee transferred to the island nation by Australia.
TV NZ reported on Tuesday that its journalist Barbara Dreaver had been detained on Nauru while covering the Pacific Islands forum taking place there this week.
TV NZ said Dreaver was interviewing a refugee in a camp on the island, when local authorities asked if she had permission to do so.
The journalist left to obtain written permission and was later detained by police, it was reported.
The office of New Zealand's foreign minister Winston Peters said the journalist was being detained at a police station. TV NZ said it was unclear why Dreaver had been detained.
In a live TV cross, Dreaver said "my visa is still valid, we’re not quite sure exactly why I’ve been stripped of my accreditation", The Guardian reported.
Jess Roden, a TV NZ producer, tweeted the journalist is "fine". Later on Tuesday, TV NZ reported Dreaver had been released from custody but had been stripped of her media accreditation to cover the forum.
However, later on Tuesday, the official Twitter account of Nauru's government claimed "no journalist has been arrested or detained". In a statement, the government claimed Dreaver had breached protocols in place around contacting refugees.
"No journalist on Nauru has been prevented from talking to any person, including refugees. However in order to protect the safety and security of all, journalists were required to follow procedures, which included going through the proper channels in order to visit or go close to the refugee residential settlements, and conduct stories outside of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)," the government said.
"No restrictions were put on these journalists regarding who they could talk to or what questions they could ask."
"However this journalist did not follow procedures, and this potentially risked the safety and security of herself and others."
"Nauru as a sovereign country has the right to protect its citizens and residents, and we do not apologise for this."
The news comes after weeks of controversy over Nauru's hosting of the Pacific forum, with mouldy tents housing refugees removed ahead of world leaders descending on the island.
Health issues around refugees, especially children, on Nauru have also come under renewed scrutiny ahead of the event, with some allegedly swallowing razor blades or rocks as kids suffer from a rare psychological condition called resignation syndrome.
The Australian ABC was also blocked from attending the forum, with Nauru refusing to issue visas to its journalists.
At the forum, New Zealand also reiterated an offer to accept and resettle refugees from Australia's immigration detention regime on Manus Island and Nauru.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly made the offer, which has been rejected by Australian authorities, partly on account of claims NZ settlement could be a "back door" to the refugees coming to Australia.
However, foreign minister Peters said New Zealand could easily address this sticking point through law reform.
"If the issue was that was their concern by letting them [refugees[ come to NZ they will gain right to Australia, we can fix that up so that’s not really a concern in my view,” Peters said in Nauru.
“Can it be solved? Yes it can. It would have to be a reform in our law.”
Ardern said she would formally raise the refugee issue at the forum, which is being attended by Australian foreign minister Marise Payne in place of new Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Former PM Malcolm Turnbull had planned to attend before he was deposed a fortnight ago.