Temporary ban slapped on foreign journalists over Manus asylum seekers plan

The

International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate The Media,

Entertainment & Arts Alliance in expressing concern that foreign

journalists have been banned from accessing the proposed Regional Processing

Centre for Asylum Seekers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. By contrast,

Nauru has promised to give journalists access to report the stories and

conditions of asylum seekers in its care.

 

Responding

to media reports about the PNG ban, Christopher Warren, federal secretary of

the Media Alliance: “It’s disturbing that after having their visa application

approved by the PNG Prime Minister’s office, a Fairfax Media journalist and

photographer have reportedly had their application stalled by the PNG

Immigration and Citizenship Service.”

 

A

report in Fairfax newspapers quotes a Service spokesperson as explaining that

the visa applications had been stalled “due to a ban being imposed by the

Foreign Minister on issuance of visas to foreign media personnel until further

notice”.

 

Speaking

to New Zealand radio, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato

explained that the ban was temporary and had been undertaken to protect the

country from misreporting, which could be ‘‘misinterpreted’’ by Papua New

Guineans. He said: “There’s no need for the access.”

 

Last

week, Minister Pato announced that the PNG Cabinet has formally approved

Australia's request to re-open the Manus Regional Asylum Processing Centre

during a special National Executive Council meeting. The Australian Government

is funding re-establishment of the detention centre and its facilities.

 

Nauru’s

Foreign Minister, Kieren Keke said his country had “no problem” with granting

journalists access to people who wanted to speak publicly and to report on the

conditions in the processing centre to be re-established there.

 

Christopher

Warren said: “The PNG ban appears to be an over-reaction to an issue that,

rather than be conducted in secrecy, should be made available to full and

complete coverage by PNG and foreign media to ensure a completely open and

transparent process is undertaken and that PNG voices are heard. Excluding the

media and preventing proper scrutiny of what is planned for Manus Island only

gives rise to confusion and may trigger the very kind of misreporting that

Foreign Minister says he is concerned about.”

 

The

IFJ and The Media Alliance call on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Foreign Minister

Rimbink Pato to relax the ban and allow foreign media to report on the

situation on Manus Island thus ensuring that the process of re-establishing and

operation of the processing centre is done to everyone’s satisfaction.



For further information contact

Karol

Foyle at The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance on +61 411 757 690

 

 

IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find

the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find

the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific