By Sasha Pei-Silovo –EM TV, Port Moresby
In a bid to crackdown on pornography, the Nauru government has directed the nation’s sole internet service provider, Digicel, to block all websites that contain pornography, particularly those that feature children.
The ban also covers the social networking site, Facebook, and came into effect on April 30.
Moral and religious grounds were the main reasons behind the ban, according to a statement issued by the government.
Nauru’s Justice Minister, David Adeang, said that Nauru had the right to promote values that helped build the nation, values based on scripture. He added that child pornography is at odds with these values, and that pornography leads to family breakdowns and a lack of respect towards women.
The minister acknowledged that some people abroad may disagree with the government’s decision because many outside of Nauru do not understand Pacific or Nauruan culture.
The opposition and refugee advocates, however, are criticising the government’s ban on Facebook. Opposition MP, Matthew Batsiua, says that he considers the move as a way to stop Nauruans from using Facebook to lash out at the government, dismissing claims of moral ethics being the reason for the ban.
He said, the real agenda was to curb the rights of people accessing social media sites; and that the government has become worried over the people criticising their leadership, with many describing their government as having a dictatorial style of managing the nation’s affairs.
He cited the shutting out of members of the opposition, the lack of scrutiny or debate on policies and activities, the growing list of expat personnel shunted off Nauru and the now, social media curb, as some of the dictatorial tactics the government is using.
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition agreed with the opposition, saying the government is “not far short of being a dictatorship and dismissed claims by the government that they are simply trying to crack down on internet pornography.
Mr Rintoul said the government has been issuing decrees on where people can protest, adding that there is a growing disquiet among people in Nauru as they feel they are “treated the same way as refugees”.
Nauru’s Opposition has said that they are interested to know how other Pacific countries would react to this latest censorship by the Nauru government.