8 Apr 2020

Last of 'Nauru-19' released

1:55 pm on 8 April 2020

The last of the members of the so called 'Nauru-19', former cabinet minister Mathew Batsiua, has been released from prison.

Mr Batsiua and 11 others, were sentenced to terms of up to 11 months in December, over what had been an anti-government protest in 2015.

Nauru opposition MP Mathew Batsiua.

Nauru opposition MP Mathew Batsiua. Photo: Supplied

The controversial, drawn out political process was called a 'chilling precedent' by Australian barrister Stephen Lawrence who had worked with the Nauru 19 for several years.

He said at the time that the sentencing meant "no matter how grave the state crimes and no matter how unconstitutional the anti-protest laws are, in Nauru, if you protest you will be imprisoned, even if you are standing up against grave crimes."

The 'Nauru 19' had been protesting the removal of the judiciary by the government in 2014, and the indefinite suspension from parliament of most of the Opposition after it had raised its concerns.