29 Apr 2015

Sacking of Radio Kiribati editor 'attack on media freedom'

8:33 pm on 29 April 2015

The editor of the Kiribati Independent newspaper, Taberannang Korauaba, says the sacking of Radio Kiribati's editor because of her reporting of the death penalty bill is an attack on media freedom.

Aneta Moote was fired after Radio Kiribati rebroadcast a story from Radio New Zealand International, which said the president Anote Tong supported the bill.

Mr Korauaba says following public criticism of the bill, the government back-tracked on its support and was embarrassed by the Radio Kiribati story.

He says the sacking is a clear warning by the government.

"It does not require punishment as high as that one, like sacking or firing a reporter or editor. There are a lot of incidents there, quite a number of reporters being sanctioned, it's not the first time. Even the government, they are saying they support media freedom, but what happened on the ground is quite contrary."

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Photo: RNZ

The Broadcasting and Publications Authority says Ms Moote was not fired because of reporting which reflected negatively on the government, but because the story was incomplete and unbalanced.

The BPA chairman Bootii Nauan:

"Three weeks or four weeks before that, the president gave a, presented a press release on that issue. From what the president mentioned, everything the president mentioned was not reflected in the news that was broadcasted at that time."

Bootii Nauan says the BPA does not place any restrictions on what its reporters can cover.