NZ journo team stopped from reporting on Kiribati ferry disaster
The Kiribati government has banned a New Zealand TV crew from reporting on the Butiraoi ferry disaster.
The NZ Defence Force found seven survivors from a ferry with 50 people on board that was reported missing in Kiribati a week ago. [restrict]
Upon arrival in Kiribati on Monday, Newshub journalist Michael Morrah and his cameraman had their passports taken off them.
The next day they were questioned by Immigration officials about their plans to report on the ferry disaster which has made headlines around the world.
Mr Morrah had to hand over a copy of an interview he’d already conducted with survivors of the ferry disaster.
The Newshub team were then told the sinking was “a very sensitive matter”, and that while the government investigated, it did not want foreign journalists interfering.
They were made to delete their interview with survivors.
After their passports were eventually returned, the Newshub team flew out from Kiribati this afternoon.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was also warned off from entering to report on the disaster by the Kiribati government.
The ABC reported it contacted the government this week to outline plans to travel to Tarawa to report on the disaster which has made headlines around the world.
The broadcaster reported a government spokesman saying it would not be an appropriate time to carry out interviews.
The MP for Nonouti and a former president of the country Sir Ieremia Tabai expressed surprise to the ABC that it wasn’t welcome to report.
“This is a free country. The media is part of our system. They appear to be behaving like the government of Nauru when they raised their fee for entry to about how many thousand dollars.”
Just seven people survived the disaster and the country is in mourning for about 90 others believed to have perished at sea after the ferry left the island of Nonouti bound for the capital Tarawa. (radionz.co.nz/international/pacific) [/restrict]