5 Sep 2018

Nauru government warns journalists to stick to rules

2:55 pm on 5 September 2018

The Nauru government has taken to Twitter to warn journalists they're not above the law as they cover the Pacific Islands Forum.

Pacific Islands Forum leaders gather for a group photo ahead of their retreat.

Pacific Islands Forum leaders gather for a group photo ahead of their retreat. Photo: Nauru Government

Journalists covering the Forum are operating on visas with restrictions on reporting - in particular about the Australian run detention camps.

New Zealand TV journalist Barbara Dreaver lost her accreditation yesterday after Nauru said she had violated visa regulations.

The TVNZ reporter was detained for three hours and stripped of her Forum accreditation - however that was reinstated today.

She had been interviewing a refugee outside a restaurant on the island when she was asked to go to a police station.

The Nauru government said journalists from New Zealand were not above the law and walking into certain areas unannounced increased risk.

The government also tweeted about the need for journalists to follow the rules, and accused some of reporting misinformation.

At a news conference as part of the Forum President Baron Waqa disputed news reports about what happened to Ms Dreaver.

"No she wasn't detained, she was taken in for questioning."

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters who is also in Nauru said freedom of the press was critical to democracy.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived for the main day of the Forum and said she would be asking more questions about what happened during the course of the day.

She is joining other leaders in the traditional retreat, after which they'll sign the Boe Declaration, making commitments about action on regional security, including trans-national crime, illegal fishing and cyber crime.

RNZ political reporter Gia Garrick said journalists there did get a warning of sorts yesterday.

"We did have a warning I guess that there was some displeasure or unrest from the Nauru government about the New Zealand reporting while we are here," said Gia Garrick.

"We had an MFAT official sit the seven of us down, or actually it was the six of us minus Barbara [Dreaver], she wasn't back at this stage ...and tell us that the Nauru government would like to pass on a message to us that it would prefer if we reported on the Forum instead of just focussing on the one issue here.

"The government felt that we had not been reporting on the Forum to its satisfaction and been focussing on the wrong issues and so he wanted to pass on that it would be going against our visa conditions should we be going into these refugee camps and it was just a few hours later that Barbara Dreaver was detained or was taken to the police station."

The Pacific Islands Forum ends today.