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Foreign journalists held back from reporting asylum seeker atrocities in Nauru

January 11, 2014
tags:#asylum seeker, #Australia, #human rights, #human rights violation, #Nauru
by:Vanessa Ellingham
The cost of foreign media visas are set to skyrocket by 3900 percent in Nauru, the tiny island nation which hosts an Australian refugee detention centre, just months after the Australian government announced that anyone who arrived in Australia by boat without a visa would not be eligible for asylum there.

Despite being entitled to protection in Australia under international law, asylum seekers arriving by boat are now processed offshore. The processing centre in Nauru was reopened in September while Papua New Guinea's reopened in November.

The price of a three-month, single-entry visa for journalists, which previously cost 200AUD, will soon cost 8000AUD in Nauru. This is an unrealistic cost for most major newspapers, let alone independent journalists such as the two brave New York Times freelance reporters who went undercover, enduring the treacherous journey aboard a refugee boat from Indonesia to Christmas Island to expose the immense hardship thousands of asylum seekers choose to face as a preferable alternative to the discrimination they have left behind in their home countries.

The UN Human Rights Commission's assessment of the Nauru Regional Processing Centre in October 2013 produced a brutal report which found that the facility does not provide safe and humane conditions for asylum seekers, nor adequate or timely solutions for their processing. Right now more than 700 people are detained on Nauru, including pregnant women and children, many of whom are housed in tents.

The Australian government has been criticised for its secretive approach to its latest immigration policies, and it is now clear that Nauru is conveniently playing along, dressing up the fee hike as a means to revenue, when it is clearly intended as a deterrent to foreign media scrutiny.

Both governments are keeping hush-hush about any cooperation on the visa price increase, according to independent Australian news site The Global Mail.

But the move is clearly an assault on the media's freedom to report on this human rights issue, intended to leave the world, and particularly Australian voters, in the dark about their government's poor treatment of asylum seekers who desperately require assistance.

Article written by:
Vanessa Ellingham