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Concerns Pacific neighbour Nauru is moving towards a dictatorship

A Wellington family has been forcibly separated from its father and husband as concerns mount over democracy on the island of Nauru.

Growing tension and reports of restrictions on freedom have drawn the attention of the New Zealand Government.

The Wellington-based Kun family have been forcibly separated from their Nauru opposition MP dad, Roland Kun. When he boarded his plane to join them in New Zealand he was hauled off by Nauruan officials and had his passport cancelled.

"I was deemed a risk to the nation. And the other reason was there were criminal investigations with which I was directly linked," Mr Kun told ONE News in a telephone interview.

The criminal investigation relates to protests last week at Parliament. Three opposition MPs have been charged, two of them imprisoned, accused by the Government of trying to destabilise it. Mr Kun is under investigation, having been suspended from Parliament a year ago.

"We are concerned to hear that there have been steps taken that might impinge on the liberties of individuals, and particularly elected representatives," says Murray McCully, New Zealand Foreign Minister.

The arrests are the latest in what critics say are moves towards a dictatorship. The Nauruan Government has suspended five opposition MPs, banned the use of Facebook, deported outspoken foreigners and introduced a law where threatening public order can result in up to seven years in jail.

"It's an attempt to try and stifle democracy in a way that is not good for the future of the country," says Dr Steven Ratuva of Canterbury University.

New Zealand gives $2 million a year towards Nauru's justice system and wants some answers over recent events. Mr McCully will be meeting with Nauru's president early next month, but it's also drawing international attention.

"It's serious enough for the Pacific Islands Forum to seriously look at what it can do," says Dr Ratuva.

The Nauru Government insists it is upholding law and order, looking after the best interests of its people. But those on the receiving end, including the Kun family, are paying a harsh price.

Tensions are escalating in Nauru and the NZ Government will meet with the Nauruan President to discuss democracy and freedom. Source: 1 NEWS


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