PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS--Kiribati's President Anote Tong should step in and clear the air over the continued failure of his Communications minister to act on registration for a controversial newspaper currently facing Police investigations, says the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF."With no progress on this issue since PFF raised its concern a month ago, it's now up to the President to get some answers from his own government. A six month bureaucratic delay continues to undermine his credibility while taking away media and information choices from his people." says PFF co chair Titi Gabi, of Papua New Guinea.
"We echo the concerns of Reporters without Borders and others on political interference into independant media. Kiribati gave us the Forum leaders promise to good governance, named after the Biketawa islet where they met back in 2000. This situation provides a timely reminder that Kiribati should now walk the talk on that promise."
The PFF request comes as Auckland-based Kiribati Independent publisher and editor Taberannang Korauaba has resumed printing this month on legal advice which now breaches a government order issued May 18 banning publication until his registration application is cleared.
Korauaba confirmed that Police visited his newspapers Tarawa offices yesterday (Tuesday 19th June), acting on complaints received from the Communications Ministry. He has previously been able to publish after filing documents for registration without problems and his legal advice is that he is still within his rights.
From American Samoa, PFF co chair Monica Miller notes the legislation used to silence the Kiribati Independent also ensures right of reply and balance in journalism by those with grievances over content.
"If President Tong, his government and anyone in Kiribati is unhappy over what they read, see or hear via the media, the same legislation on registration also ensures media operators address complaints of biased coverage. " says Miller.
"In 2000, Kiribati hosted the historical Pacific Forum leaders meeting which paved the way for leaders commitments to good governance and transparency. We urge the President to let media do its work, and bring back the Biketawa promise."