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Kiribati silence over blocked newspaper – free edition circulated

Taberannang Korauaba

Kiribati Independent publisher and editor Taberannang Korauaba … shut down due to political pressure. Photo: PMC/KI

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch in Auckland

The Tarawa edition of the Kiribati Independent newspaper remains closed six months after it voluntarily shut down “indefinitely” after harassment by authorities.

But editor Taberannang Korauaba and two Tarawa-based staff have begun circulating a  free New Zealand edition with some Kiribati stories to readers in the island nation.

“We are publishing with a view to updating our readers with news from New Zealand and Kiribati,” Korauaba told Pacific Media Watch [1].

“Also, the idea is to keep doing our job and to see if we can get advertising to pay for the writers in Tarawa.

“I have also decided to launch a weekly news service and to sell our stories to stations that are interested in buying our English-language news every week.”

Korauaba has published the Auckland-based Kiribati and Tuvalu for the two communities and income generated from advertising has been maintain reporters in Tarawa.

Early last year the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders wrote a formal protest letter to the Kiribati government in support of the Kiribati Independent when the Communications Ministry failed to issue a publication licence.

Last June, police visited the paper’s Tarawa office and the newspaper ceased publication while awaiting a licence.

Since then, the newspaper has had no communication from authorities.

Other media freedom groups – including International Federation of Journalists, Pacific Media Watch, Pacific Media Centre and Pacific Freedom Forum – also appealed last year to the Communications Ministry to grant the newspaper a licence without political interference.

It is believed that the newspaper’s sole distributor was intimidated by police inquiries and staff have been subjected to threatening anonymous emails.

The newspaper’s legal advice at the time was that the law had not been broken.

The Kiribati Independent was the fourth newspaper in the country, published fortnightly and had a circulation of about 500. It was printed by the Catholic Church’s Maria Printers.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 8176 [1]

Kiribati Independent website [2]