PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS-- Journalists in Papua New Guinea must be able to report the ongoing political tensions in the country without fear or intimidation, says Pacific media monitoring watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.
Speaking from Port Moresby, PFF
chair Titi Gabi has called for an investigation after soldiers at the Murray
Barracks in Port Moresby reportedly threatened to shoot PNGFM reporter Tauna
George on Thursday 26th January. George, a resident at the Barracks, had
rushed to the front gates to see why shots were being fired randomly on the
same morning. As he approached the main office to request
an interview, four soldiers ordered him to sit down,
searched him, removed his phone, notebook and biro, and threatened to shoot
The act of aggression was raised by PNG FM News Director Belinda
Kora at a press conference called by ex-army colonel Yausa Sasa the
same day. Sasa was taken by surprise, apologised and ordered the return
of Tauna's equipment.
"An investigation into the officers who took it
upon themselves to threaten the life of a journalist going about his job
would help them better understand how to treat civilians and media workers during times of tension
and upheaval," says Gabi. "Anyone who has a gun pulled on them
and a threat to shoot is a victim of a criminal act, regardless of
timing or who is behind the firearm."
She says other incidents and comments on social networking sites from PNG journalists have raised the need for media workers to "be
vigilant of their safety and rights, and lean on the rule of law to help them do the best job
ABC PNG stringer Firmin Nanol was also denied access to a
Press Conference organised the same day. In front of other media
colleagues, Nanol was shouted at by the PRO of Defence Dept and former journalist Benny Sandeka, who was blaming ABC for 'coup' adjectives used to report last weeks event.
The threats to PNG
media in recent days come on the back of increasing incidences of
self-censorship and intimidation in recent months within industry ranks.
Journalists in the National Broadcasting Corporation and EMTV have noted unusual management decisions delaying or
pulling news bulletins for perceived
'imbalance'. In two cases, talk-back callers to an NBC live show were asked
on-air if their comments were going to be for or against the O'Neill
government. The troubled times for PNG newsrooms are compounded by the current leadership void for the nations once
strong national media watchdog, the PNG Media Council.
"We encourage our PNG colleagues to
discuss and report all acts of intimidation and harassment and promptly make all concerns known to other colleagues in the media," says PFF co chair
Monica Miller, from American Samoa. "Self-censorship often results when
intimidation, threats and silence become an accepted norm amongst
journalists. We need to deal strongly and consistently with this on all
fronts if we want to remain credible, independent and
Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea
Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media.
We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.