27 Jun 2014

Arrested Kiribati squatters now released

3:47 pm on 27 June 2014

Reports of women and children being arrested on Kiribati's Kiritimati Island for squatting on government land have been quashed by the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands Development.

The Kiribati Independent had reported 300 squatters, including women and children, were arrested earlier in the week when they refused to move off rural land and return to the villages.

But the ministry's secretary, Wiriki Tooma, says the report was wrong and exaggerated.

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Photo: RNZ

She says there were originally around 100 settlers in the rural area, who had come from other islands such as Tarawa Atoll, and had family connections on Kiritimati Island.

Ms Tooma says the squatters were using government land and were given warnings to return to the village.

She says most of them complied, but fewer than 20 men were arrested for refusing to move, and have now been released back to the villages.