Suspended Nauru MPs hit by new visa restrictions
Latest visa limits add to problems for Nauru's suspended MPs who are facing legal action.
A former president of Nauru, who is one of five MPs suspended from parliament, says new visa restrictions are partly aimed at them.
Sprent Dabwido is one of three of MPs facing charges over a protest last June while another two had their passports seized.
All the MPs have struggled to bring in lawyers from overseas because of obstructions placed in their way by the judicial system and the justice minister.
In the latest development the government deemed all visitors from Australia and New Zealand wouldn't get on the island without local guarantors.
Mr Dabwido says the changes are partly meant to further frustrate their attempts to get lawyers into the country.
SPRENT DABWIDO: They know we are getting Australian lawyers and to get them we have to be some sort of guarantor. And once our families put their names up as guarantors then [if] they come and break one condition here - if they do finalise the visit, then I think straight away I'll be put in jail for one year, meaning I forfeit the coming election. It could be as easy as them getting off the plane and I don't know, let's say he hands over his passport and they just make up an excuse there that his passport is, instead of six months from the expiry date it is ten or 12 months, and he has violated the conditions of his passport and then I do get put in there [jail] for one year, which means in our constitution I cannot stand for elections.
DON WISEMAN: What is the feeling among other people on Nauru about Australians and New Zealanders, and the overseas media as well, pretty much being banned from the country?
SD: Most people here who are very familiar with what is happening here, find the move of the government absolutely shocking. We can imagine if Australia and New Zealand did this to us, we would be in tears. And no one could understand why the Australian government or the New Zealand government would do things like this to us. And for our government to do this to Australia and New Zealand, it is a big shame for most of the people I have been speaking to, especially the people who know that these restrictions are uncalled for, unnecessary and if you put it into context as to what Australia's done for us - in the past 3 years since the RPC [regional processing centre for asylum seekers] opened our visa conditions to Australia have relaxed to some degree to where we are fully appreciative. But what we are doing is we are going the opposite way. We are becoming more restrictive. Mainly I think because the government is trying to hide its lack of the rule of law here, and trying to hide from the Australian and New Zealand media. They have just gone crazy, that's all I can say. No normal people would do things like this.
DW: Given all this and given the long struggle, because it is the best part of nine months since you guys were first arrested, and in your case put in jail for a period, how confident are you that you are going to get your day in court.
SD: I am confident that that day will come but whether it will be in a natural court where we can be fully represented - we have long interference by the government in the courts of Nauru - I am very doubtful of that. But they will give us a day in court on their terms in my view. They will probably to some degree disable our legal team, and to some degree jack up the judiciary system in their favour. So yes I am confident that our day will come but whether it is a fair court - right now as we speak, I don't feel confident at all.
The Nauru government refuses to respond to enquiries from this radio station.
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