26 Jun 2015

NZ to check on Nauru judicial system

8:22 am on 26 June 2015

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he will check whether Nauru is measuring up to its earlier assurances about the integrity of its judicial system.

Murray McCully

Murray McCully Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

New Zealand has provided 600-thousand US dollars a year to fund the system and last year Mr McCully called Nauru ministers to Wellington after the Nauru government deported the country's only magistrate and cancelled the visa of the Chief Justice.

New Zealand and Australian aid to Nauru are again in question following recent developments on the island including court action against five suspended opposition MPs and curbs on Facebook and free speech.

Mr McCully describes it as an understatement to say he's deeply concerned about developments in Nauru but says he does not want to put Nauru's judicial system under any further pressure by pulling aid.

"If we were simply to depart the scene, then that leaves the Australians carrying effectively all of the burden and also means we put under further pressure the judicial systems we're already concerned about. So our starting point is always to find a way of dealing with the issues and finding a way forward rather than pulling the plug on what is not a big development initiative."

Five suspended opposition MPs have either had their passports cancelled, or are facing criminal charges following anti government protests in Nauru last week.

Mr McCully says he will have what he calls a pretty direct conversation with the Nauruan President Baron Waqa at a meeting of Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers in just over a week's time.

"I'll certainly take the opportunity in any informal discussions to raise these issues and to see if we can find a pathway forward. We need to take pretty seriously the reports that are coming out and we need to have some focused conversations about these developments."

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