13 May 2015

Nauru tightens laws surrounding public statements

4:21 pm on 13 May 2015

The Nauru government is further tightening controls to curb dissent.

It is amending the criminal code to make any comment deemed to cause emotional stress and likely to threaten public order an offence punishable with up to seven years in jail.

no caption

Photo: RNZ / Walter Zweifel

In introducing the amendment, the justice minister David Adeang says the freedom of speech has of late been tainted with somewhat vile and tasteless words.

To counter this, he has tabled a bill that prohibits publishing statements or material that intimidates, harasses or causes emotional stress to a person.

It also bans language that is abusive in nature and intends to stir up racial or religious hatred.

The amendment also makes it an offence if the statements are likely to threaten national defence and public order.

This comes just days after Nauru blocked Facebook, saying it was part of efforts to stop child pornography.

Last year, five MPs were expelled from parliament indefinitely, with the speaker accusing them of high treason for speaking to foreign media.

There has been no foreign journalist in the country for more than a year after Nauru imposed a non-refundable visa application fee of 7,000 US dollars.