A refugee who made a sex assault complaint on Nauru is facing charges of making a false statement after the government of the tiny pacific nation came under fire for releasing the woman’s name and details of her allegations.
Nauru Justice minister, David Adeang, defended a decision by the Nauru authorities to release the woman’s name, after the country’s Australian based PR firm, Mercer PR, earlier in the week sent reporters a statement with a detailed police report attached, which also contained a graphic details of her medical exam.
Adeang said he stood by the country’s police “100 percent” and also demanded media outlets stop referring to the woman as a rape victim.
— RNZ International (@RNZInews) October 14, 2015
"The police investigation has shown there was no rape therefore as far as we are concerned the person in question is not a rape victim or a victim of any crime," Adeang said in a statement on Thursday.
"The person did not cooperate with police and refused to accompany police to what she alleged was the crime scene."
The statement comes amid increased scrutiny on Nauru police, after the ABC reported on Thursday a convicted rapist had been allowed join the island nation’s reservists and had been on active duty.
Adeang defended the decision to name of the woman on a police report, saying it was the decision of the Nauruan authorities and not Mercer PR.
"It is a lie to say we 'published' the name. We did not even use her name in our statement. We simply sent a police report to a few media outlets who already knew who she was, in the interests of accountability,” he said.
He said the Nauru government “will be reluctant to update Australian media on future police investigations".
This is nasty, vindictive stuff from Nauru: http://t.co/y9vZZ93zCa
@TurnbullMalcolm, the trajectory is clear. Time to change it.— Daniel Webb (@DanielHRLC) October 15, 2015
On Wednesday Mercer was slammed by Australia’s peak PR body, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), for the release of the woman’s name.
The PR firm has since reportedly gone to ground and deleted blogs and upped the security on its website, according to Crikey.
“PRIA strongly condemns the distribution and publication of any material that involves an invasion of privacy for any individual,” PRIA said in a statement.
Mercer is not a member of PRIA and therefore is not bound by the organisation’s code of ethics.
Nauru is combative with foreign journalists and charges a non-refundable $AUD8000 for a visa application. On Monday Al Jazeera reported its journalists had been told by an official no media would be approved.
In his statement Adeang also attacked Australian media outlets the Guardian and the ABC, after the national broadcaster aired allegations of the rape in September.