PFF Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS– News that the Kiribati newspaper at the centre of a Police investigation has stopped printing means fewer ways for people there to stay informed says media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.
Auckland-based Kiribati Independent publisher and editor Taberannang Korauaba will retain the online edition of the Independent but has stopped print circulation in Kiribati while Police follow up on
complaints linking to the newspaper’s registration status.
“The loss of their weekly news in print is a blow for readers in Kiribati who don’t have online access, and their leaders need to tell them why a government which has been sitting on media paperwork since last year, has suddenly been able to act so quickly to lay a complaint linked to that paperwork ,” says PFF co chair Titi Gabi of PNG. “Whose interest is being served here? Without a free media to give them answers, the public lose their right to know. ”
“PFF reiterates concern over any political motivations behind the processing delays for the registration paperwork and hope the Police will help to quickly and fairly resolve the issue.”
PFF co chair Monica Miller says given the current Police complaints stem from a lack of progress on a bureaucratic issue, Kiribati’s media-savvy President should take the lead.
“Kiribati gave the Pacific the Biketawa principles on good governance, and a President who has taken the message to the world on sinking islands and climate change,” she says. “As someone who uses media powerfully to talk about his people, we urge President Tong to uphold Biketawa’s promise and give Kiribati the same free media he enjoys globally.”