The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned for the safely of journalists in Papua New Guinea after an assault on two EMTV journalists that has been condemned by Prime Minster Peter O'Neill.
On Sunday June 8, crew members from EMTV were detained for an hour and allegedly physically assaulted near Port Moresby by a cell keeper in front of local police.
Police officers from a Highway Patrol Unit allegedly forced the EMTV cameraman to cease filming and delete footage. They also tore pages recording the incident from the reporter’s notebook. It’s alleged the EMTV reporters were then punched several times by the cell keeper.
The crew was released an hour later and senior police officers were alerted to the issue.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill condemned the attack and stressed the importance of the media to the nation. “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and unnecessary. People need to respect that the media has got a role to play in our country”.
This is not the first time there has been an attack on the EMTV journalists. In 2013, an EMTV journalist and a staff member was assaulted by the owner of Bismarck Maritime, Hamish Sharp, while accompanying a government sanctioned taskforce investigating the influx of illegal foreign workers.
Another report in 2012 saw EMTV journalists berated for “misreporting” by government-appointed Task Force members accompanying the illegal immigrants while filming in the airport.
The IFJ said: “It is the right and responsibility of journalists to seek out information and report on stories that the people have a right to know. If police officers and other authorities resort to violence as a means of restricting free speech, what standards are they setting for the citizens of Papua New Guinea?”
The IFJ urges the PNG Government to ensure the June 8 incident is fully investigated and that those responsible for the violence against the journalists account for their actions and face the appropriate penalties. Further, the IFJ believes PNG police should receive training so that they fully understand the role of the media in a democratic society and cease interfering in the work of journalists who are simply doing their job.