22 Aug 2016

Nauru's Waqa accuses media of distortion

2:01 pm on 22 August 2016

The President of Nauru has reiterated his government's earlier claims that reports of abuse on the island are fabricated.

Baron Waqa accused the foreign media of using Nauru as a punching bag.

The President's comments, in an article in the Australian newspaper, came two weeks after the publication of more than 2,000 reports of abuse or mistreatment of inmates in the Australian-run detention centre on the island.

Baron Waqa, President of Nauru

Baron Waqa, President of Nauru Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

This was preceded by a review conducted by Amnesty International that graphically detailed the extent of the abuse and ill treatment.

But Mr Waqa said Nauru hosted the refugees and asylum seekers with compassion, understanding and professionalism.

He said every person was treated with dignity, even when that respect was not returned.

The President said there was no detention on Nauru, as the centres were open.

He said the photos of people behind fences were taken for propaganda purposes only - all asylum-seekers were free to travel within the community at will.

He said refugees lived in accommodation that was far better than local Nauruans have, though he admitted some asylum-seekers still lived in tents.

Nauru has severely restricted media access by imposing a non refundable visa application fee of $US6000.

But Baron Waqa defended this saying some foreign media could not be relied on to tell the truth.

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