3 Jul 2015

Jailed Nauru MPs fail to get bail

7:06 am on 3 July 2015

Two Nauru MPs, who have been in custody for two weeks, will stay in the island's prison for at least another week after their bail applications were denied in the Magistrates Court today.

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido Photo: supplied

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido and Squire Jeremiah have been accused of fomenting a protest outside parliament.

The government has claimed the protest was a riot - but the organisers deny this.

Both MPs are the only representatives from Nauru's Meneng district, but they, and 3 of their colleagues, have been suspended for more than a year.

There are reports from Nauru that attempts by people in Meneng, including Mr Jeremiah's wife, to put up protest banners in the district this week were stopped by police, who threatened to charge them with rioting.

Four of the five suspended MPs are facing legal action but they do not have access to a qualified lawyer on Nauru and the Government is refusing to issue a visa for a lawyer in Australia to travel to the island.

The New Zealand parliament passed a unanimous motion yesterday expressing concern about the situation in Nauru.

The motion was moved by the Green Party's global affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham.

Dr Graham called for the parliament to express its concern at the Nauru government's alleged interference with the judiciary, the suspension of opposition MPs, the cancelling of passports of opposition MPs and the removal of civil and political rights.

The move follows a call from top legal academics in New Zealand for the government to stop funding the justice sector in Nauru over concerns about the rule of law.

The Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is concerned about the situation and has sought a meeting with representatives of the Nauru Government in Sydney next week.

Last week he said he did not want to put Nauru's judicial system under any further pressure by pulling aid.

The New Zealand Green Party says if New Zealand continues funding, the government sends the message that it supports what they say is a flagrant abuse of power in a South Pacific neighbour.

The party says New Zealand is in an opportune position to effect change and Mr McCully needs to do the right thing and send a strong message to restore democracy to Nauru.

New Zealand Parliament

New Zealand Parliament Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson