ABC defends Four Corners following “racist, biased” claims by Nauru govt

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The government of Nauru has hit back at a Four Corners story which featured video smuggled out showing refugee children talk of their experiences over the last three years.

Fairfax reports the govt labelled the ABC “an embarrassment to journalism” accusing ABC of racism, political activism and insulting residents.

In its statement, the Republic of Nauru’s “media and public information” unit claimed the children who appeared in the program were “coached” and the interview process “stage-managed”. Despite this, “viewers could clearly see that the refugees featured were well dressed, well-groomed and healthy”, the statement said.

It claimed the story also used footage of a now-defunct hospital and failed to mention the “new $27 million state-of-the-art medical facility to which refugees have unrestricted and free access” or the newly-constructed school.

“Last night’s Four Corners program on the ABC was yet another example of the ABC’s biased political propaganda and lies, and was an insult to the people of Nauru,” the statement said. “This report was an embarrassment to journalism. From start to finish it was denigrating, racist, false and pure political activism.”

The government maintained Nauru was not a violent country and had a lower crime rate than Australia.

But ABC said in a statement:

“The Four Corners report The Forgotten Children told the story of the more than 100 refugee children who are living on Nauru, recognised as refugees and released from detention but trapped in a legal limbo. It was an important story, of obvious public interest. ABC News and Four Corners stand by the report and reject the claims of the Government of Nauru.

“The interviews with the children were conducted remotely by Four Corners, and their stories were subjected to the program’s usual rigorous fact-checking processes. The program was made in this way because the Nauruan government routinely refuses journalists access to report on offshore processing, and charges prohibitive fees for media visas which are not refunded if the applications are refused.”

Yesterday Amnesty International’s Island of Despair report condemned offshore processing, claiming Australia’s policy of holding refugees on Nauru indefinitely amounts to a systematic violation of human rights and possibly constitutes torture.

“I reject that claim totally. It is absolutely false. The Australian government’s commitment is compassionate and it’s strong,” Prime Minister Turnbull told ABC radio.

One Comment:

  1. Having watched last nights program and re-viewing it on ABCs catch up service, I couldn’t help notice that some of the men and children being interviewed appeared to be reading off some sort of prepared statement. This was obvious when talking to the 2 young men about a friend who set himself on fire. You could see his eyes moving side to side as though he is reading something, instead of looking into the camera.

    The stories from last night were tragic and heart-wrenching but I do have some doubts about some of the claims made – including the little girl who said “I heard” this and “I heard” that – when talking about what happens to the refugees on Nauru. I’d like to know who has been telling her these stories, because never once did she say she has ever seen any of these events take place, only what she has heard.

    I’d like to see a more in-depth follow up to this story…

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