14 May 2015

Call for Australia and NZ to condemn new Nauru law

5:19 am on 14 May 2015

The former resident magistrate on Nauru says Australia and New Zealand need to condemn that country's tightening of freedom of speech laws in an effort to curb dissent.

The Chamber of Parliament, Nauru

The Chamber of Parliament, Nauru Photo: Supplied

The government on Tuesday amended the criminal code to make any comment deemed to cause emotional stress and threaten public order an office punishable with up to seven years in jail.

But Peter Law, who was deported from the island and resigned as resident magistrate last year, says the laws are an attempt to suppress free speech and is the latest in a series of worrying developments that's seen the judiciary and parliamentary opposition expelled and Facebook banned on the island.

Mr Law says Australia, which runs asylum seeker detention centres on the island and is Nauru's largest aid donor, and New Zealand, which funds Nauru's judiciary, have been very quiet on the issues.

"For those states which go off the rails in our region, we must try to reason with them and bring them back into a sense of democracy. There has to be some basic expectations both with funding and with friendly relations. Clearly, there has to be some expression of frustration made towards this government."

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