10 Apr 2015

Nauru refugees 'less than second class citizens'

3:13 pm on 10 April 2015

A refugee advocate says a new law on protesting in Nauru shows the government views refugees as being less than second class citizens.

Nauru refugee protests asylum seekers

Nauru protesters Photo: supplied

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition says a new law, which is directed at refugees, requires protesters to give seven days notice before demonstrating or they face $3000 fines (Australian dollars) or two years in jail.

Mr Rintoul says it also gives total power over whether there can be a protest solely to the police commissioner.

He says it's the latest move by Nauru's government to crack down on the non-cooperation campaign of the refugees in Nauru.

"The Nauru government is moving more and more towards a police state really, to give extraordinary powers to the police to try and stamp out any kind of protest. And while this is directed at refugees, there's no doubt that it can be used against anyone on Nauru, including Nauruans who may want to protest against their own government for any number of reasons actually."

Ian Rintoul says the law will not deter refugees from protesting for their rights.

The Nauru government has not clarified the law.

Meanwhile 11 refugees on Nauru who were expected to appear in court this week following their involvement in a protest in March have had their case adjourned for a second time.

Mr Rintoul says the case was adjourned on Wednesday after no legal representation showed up at court.

He says the first time the case was adjourned was because of confusion as to who was actually charged and how many defendants were supposed to be there.

Mr Rintoul says the refugees, who are out on bail, have not been told what they are charged with.

"The bail sheets actually do not indicate a charge. And even though 189 people got bail notices when they were released from prison there were only ten or eleven who actually got notices on their bail sheets to appear in court. So we are very interested to see what actual charges are laid against the people who have been required to appear."

Ian Rintoul says it is unlikely the case will ever proceed.

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