Papua New Guinea: EMTV suspends veteran journalist for alleged defamation

Sincha Dimara, one of Papua New Guinea’s longest-serving journalists and Head of News and Current Affairs at EMTV, was suspended for three weeks without pay, following allegations of insubordination and defamation of EMTV's parent company, Media Niugini Limited (MNL). The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns Dimara’s suspension and urges MNL to immediately reinstate her.

EMTV journalist Sincha Dimara. Credit: Twitter

[UPDATE 12 March 2022]: Sincha Dimara has been fired by EMTV after a three-week long suspension. Dimara, one of the news station's longest serving journalists, was suspended on February 9 for alleged 'insubordination'. Following the news of her suspension, 24 of Dimara's colleagues staged a walk out. They have all been fired. 

[UPDATE 18 February 2022]: The EMTV national news team staged a walk out in protest of Dimara’s suspension. In a statement released on Thursday, the team condemned the “endless intimidation” of the news service and vowed not to return until “the wrongs have been righted”. Dimara is the third news manager to be suspended by EMTV in five years.  

On February 9, MNL, the company that manages EMTV, released a memo from CEO Lesieli Vete announcing Dimara’s suspension to her colleagues, alleging that she had disobeyed orders and damaged the company’s reputation. Dimara is one of EMTV’s longest serving journalists and reporters.

According to the Media Council of Papua New Guinea (MCPNG), Dimara was suspended following the airing of three news stories, all which covered the arrest of Jamie Pang, an Australian hotel owner, and the “human rights abuse” linked to his detainment.  

Vete supposedly acted to suspend Dimara after a request from Public Enterprises and State Investment Minister, William Duma, who is responsible for Telikom, PNG’s leading telecommunications company. MNL is also owned by Telikom, which is itself a government entity.  

When asked about his involvement in Dimara’s suspension, Duma claimed he had not ordered it, and instead asked management to “deal with it”.  

This is not the first time MNL has been criticised for suspending its journalists. In 2019 the company fired (then re-hired) Neville Choi, and, in 2018, suspended senior journalist Scott Waide after he led a report criticising government spending.  

Regional media freedom body, the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) condemned the decision. “We urge the CEO and MNL to consider the impact of these heavy-handed decisions on staff morale and indeed, their own credibility in the eyes of the public. We stand in solidarity with our EMTV wantoks, and all our media family across Papua New Guinea who work in often difficult situations, to ensure the people are informed and know what is happening,” PFF said. 

The IFJ said: “The escalating number of journalist suspensions in PNG is a worrying trend with serious implications for press freedom. Journalists must not be targeted for carrying out their jobs and ensuring the publication of stories in the public interest. The IFJ calls for Sincha Dimara’s reinstatement and urges media organisations to protect the rights of media workers in the Pacific.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram