18 Jun 2004

Nauru Government says flotilla not permitted to land

3:53 pm on 18 June 2004

The Nauru Government says the protest flotilla nearing the island will not be allowed to land and those on board will risk their lives if they try to do so.

Two protest yachts, calling themselves the Flotilla of Hope, are about 170 nautical miles south of Nauru and say they expect to be allowed to land there tomorrow.(sat)

The flotilla members want to land and visit the detainees being held there under Australia's Pacific Solution policy.

But, the Nauru Government spokeswoman, Helen Bogdan, says the president, Rene Harris, has not agreed to the issuing of visas to the flotilla members.

Ms Bogdan says she expects the Government will arrange for fishing boats to meet the flotilla at sea and take gifts it is bringing for the detainees.

She says Nauru is surrounded by a dangerous reef and those in the flotilla must not try to land.

"The Government recognises that this is a peaceful protest and I think that the Government of Nauru will treat them with due respect. And as long as they don't break the law I'm sure that no harm will come to anybody. In fact, even if they did break the law, no harm would come to them in Nauru unless they were foolish enough to try and land their boat in an unsafe way."

Helen Bogdan.