Reporters Without Borders reiterated its request to Taberannang Timeon, the Kiribati minister for communications, transport, tourism and industrial development, to grant a publication licence to the newspaper Kiribati Independent under the Newspaper Registration Act (1989).
“A registration application was submitted by the Kiribati Independent in December 2011 – why is it still under consideration?” the press freedom organization asked.
“This silence, accompanied by two ministerial orders issued to the newspaper to cease publication, constitutes a major obstacle to its work. The letter we wrote to Taberannang Timeon on May 25 (see below) has remained unanswered. The minister must grant the application by the Kiribati Independent as quickly as possible or explain why the application process is taking so long.
“A recent visit by the police to the newspaper’s offices would appear to be a clear indication of deliberate harassment.”
After checking with his lawyer, the newspaper’s editor and publisher Taberannang Korauaba continued operating but consequently received two orders from the communications ministry to cease publication. The paper resumed publishing on June 1, followed by the police visit to the editorial offices on June 19.
Pacific Scoop, a website run by the Pacific Media Centre, today quoted Korauaba as telling the watchdog Pacific Media Watch on June 6: “Our lawyer has responded to the Communications Ministry advising them that Kiribati Independent is not in breach of the law and if they believe so they must proceed with prosecuting the publisher.”