Price of journalist visa to Nauru skyrockets

Price of journalist visa to Nauru skyrockets

Some online speculate 3,900 per cent hike linked to Australian detention facility for asylum seekers.

Destroyed accommodation blocks, part of damage caused by a July 19 riot at the Nauru immigration detention centre in Nauru, July 21, 2013. (EPA/DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP)

Australians online have reacted with ire to reports that the visa application fee for journalists visiting the Pacific island of Nauru will skyrocket from $200 to $8,000 AUD ($7,100).

Nauru, a country with a population of fewer than 10,000, is home to one of Australia's offshore detention centres, where unauthorised asylum seekers who land in Australia by boat are deported. According to Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection, there are 686 people, including 109 children, currently held in immigration detention in Nauru as of November 30.

Joanna Olsson, of the Nauru Government Information Office, told The Stream that the fee hike was for "revenue purposes", and did not comment on alleged links to the detention centre.  However, another government official reportedly said that only "three to four" media visas were issued in all of 2013.

Some online suspected that the fee hike may be a way to stop journalists from covering the Australian detention facility, which has been criticised by international groups including Amnesty International and the UNHCR.