YAREN,20 DECEMBER 2019 — A group of anti-government protesters, known as the ‘Nauru 19’, have been sentenced to jail terms of up to 11 months, in what has been described as a “chilling precedent”.
Eleven men and one woman, the last of the group dubbed ‘Nauru 19’, have been sentenced to varying jail terms of up to 11 months.
They were convicted earlier this month on charges including rioting, assault, trespass and wilful damage.
Australian barrister, Stephen Lawrence, who has previously represented the group, said the sentences could have been worse but were a “chilling precedent” in terms of the rule of law.
“Because what it says to political protesters in Nauru is, no matter how grave the state crimes and no matter how unconstitutional the anti-protest laws are, in Nauru, if you protest you will be imprisoned, even if you are standing up against grave crimes.”
The ‘Nauru 19’ had been protesting the removal of the judiciary by the government in 2014, and the indefinite suspension from parliament of most of the Opposition after it had raised its concerns.
Facing the longest sentence is former Justice Minister Batsiua.
He was jailed for 18 months with a seven month reduction due to mitigating factors, such as the lengthy delay in the case coming to trial.
Ten of the others have been jailed for terms of 8 or 6 or 5 or 4 months, while the only woman convicted, Lena Porte, got three months.
The court ruled that the 12 would serve half of these sentences with the remainder suspended for 12 months…. (PACNEWS)