The motion followed a report by Rashneel Kumar during Question Time concerning the increase of travel privileges for spouses of outer-bound MPs. Parliament heavily condemned the article as sensationalist with Prime Minister Henry Puma describing it as ‘incorrect and unfair’ coverage.
The Cook Island News editor, Jonathan Milne stood by Kumar’s article, stating that the reporting was both fair and accurate. While this is the first time that a journalist is set to be evicted from Cook Island parliament, the proposed ban against Kumar could become a precedent for the government to remove all media access from any parliamentary session. Not only is this motion a violation of media freedom but a press ban would ensure that the decision makers of Cook Island cannot be held accountable for their actions and their speech. The parliamentary response to Kumar’s article has been disproportionate and only reveals how fearful the government is of any critique to their actions.
IFJ said: “The IFJ urges the government of the Cook Islands to revoke their motion to ban Rashneel Kumar from parliament. The continued media monitoring of government activities is integral to ensuring that parliament is representative of the people of the Cook Islands.”