UN and other groups need to get facts about Nauru’s new criminal amendments
The Government of Nauru will write
to the United Nations Rapporteur of freedom of opinion and
expression, David Kaye, to tell him that he is wrong to criticise
the recent amendment to the nation's criminal code.
Nauru's Justice Minister David Adeang says the UN Rapporteur and
others who have claimed the amendments restrict freedom of
expression are guilty of using Nauru as a 'punching bag' without
knowing the facts.
"Freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 12 of our
constitution, which overrides any law, however this same
constitution in Article 12:3 allows the Government to protect the
nation's interests," he explained.
He said the amendment's wording was identical to that in the
constitution and set the bar of proof higher than in some other
countries including Australia.
"While those with political agendas have focused on the wording
'political hatred', this amendment also covers racial and religious
"Australia's race hate laws go further than these, and I don't see
the UN writing to them."
The minister said it would not be government who decided who broke
the laws, but the court, and emphasised that the recent reform of
the country's legal system now saw three Supreme Court judges of
international standard sitting on the court.
"If someone is prosecuted, just like in Australia, it goes before
the court and the prosecution must prove that 'such statement or
material is likely to threaten national defence, public safety,
public order, public morality or public health.'
"This is not easy to prove, and neither should it be, because this
amendment is about protecting freedom of expression under the
He said it was ridiculous to suggest that the laws prevented
people from criticising the government.
"Don't you see the irony," he asked. "They are openly criticising
us, while telling us we won't let them criticise us!"
Mr Adeang said people like the UN should get their facts right
before going public, and the nation would no longer sit back and
allow "left-wing hypocrites" to spread lies about the country.