25 Jul 2017

Lawyer suspects Australia behind Nauru's journalist blockade

11:59 am on 25 July 2017

A prominent lawyer says he suspects Australia has directed Nauru to prevent journalists from visiting the Pacific Island nation.


Nauru Photo: Supplied/ @ChrisTrott

Australia has exiled about a thousand refugees to Nauru where the non-refundable fee to apply for a journalist's visa is $US5000.

The lawyer Julian Burnside QC said warehousing refugees was Nauru's most lucrative industry giving Australia influence influence over Nauru's policy settings.

He said the effective ban on journalists hid human rights abuses from the Australian public.

"I expect that that is the direct product of Australia's directions to Nauru, " said Mr Burnside.

"I think most Australians would be shocked if they knew in detail what is actually happening on Nauru, so it is in the interests of the Australian government to make sure that Australian's don't find out."

Secrecy surrounding Australian offshore detention of refugees recently prompted Mr Burnside to publish an account of life on Nauru as related to him by a resident.

Mr Burnside said it was not clear if journalists would be welcome in Nauru when it hosts the Pacific Islands Forum in 2018.