IFJ Concerned by Threats to Free Speech in PNG


The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) are gravely concerned by the

Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s announcement of a new 'monitoring' committee, tasked with identifying those expressing views

it considers 'subversive’.


On Wednesday February 22, the O’Neill/Namah

government's Chief of Staff, Ben Micah, emailed a press release announcing

details of the new committee to local journalists, as well as posting the

release on a PNG media page on social networking website Facebook.


The release states that any person found using

their mobile phone, email or Facebook to spread information considered 'malicious

and misleading' will be considered to have committed a serious crime and will

be 'dealt with'.


The statement raises strong concerns for free

speech and individual privacy rights, as it appears to criminalise the personal

use of phones, email and social networking websites without a clear legal

mandate. The statement also threatens unspecified punishment for those found to

be using personal communications technology in a manner deemed “illegal

and detrimental”.


“Freedom of speech is a key requirement of good

governance”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Office



“Policies and laws which attempt to censor or

punish those expressing themselves online, or via other communications

technologies, violate this core principle of democracy.


The IFJ believes that PNG’s existing laws are

sufficient to allow authorities to investigate legitimate acts of subversion,

and urges the Government of PNG to reconsider any plans it may have for the

monitoring and criminalisation of personal communications.


The press and public should be able to express

themselves freely without fear of intimidation or criminal prosecution”



has seen a recent rise in threats of violence against journalists, including a recent

incident where soldiers at the Murray Barracks in the country’s capital of Port Moresby threatened to

shoot PNGFM reporter Tauna George.

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0950



represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific


Find the IFJ on

Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific