Nauru urged to withdraw measures threatening freedom of expression

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David Kaye. (UNTV – video capture)

Nauru has been urged by the UN to withdraw recent amendments to the country's criminal code which it says "unduly restrict" the freedom of expression.

The maximum penalty for being found guilty of breaking the code is seven years in prison.

Daniel Dickinson reports

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said the new laws could be used to "muzzle dissenting opinions" and curtail the activities of human rights defenders, academics, journalists, students, politicians and members of civil society.

The amendment to the criminal code is, he said, ambiguous and imposes harsh penalties, including up to seven years in prison, for what he called "a wide range of legitimate expression."

Nauru has also restricted access to the Internet and social media, for the island nation's 10,000 inhabitants.

The aim the authorities say is to prevent access to pornography and prevent cyber-bullying.

Mr Kaye said the restrictions were "designed to prevent asylum seekers and refugees in the country from sharing information on their situation."

Freedom of the press has also been curtailed.

Last year, the Government imposed a US$6,500 fee for a single entry visa for foreign journalists to enter the country.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’08″

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