Journalistic reporting in PNG remains a "real challenge"
Government's changes to ICAC legislation will create a 'toothless monster' unable to arrest and prosecute the... https://t.co/ZvOPFTY8k6— actnowpng (@actnowpng) September 19, 2017
On 20th September 2017, a draft law to remove powers and functions of Papua New Guinea's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was reportedly introduced. The proposed bill removes ICAC's powers to arrest and prosecute and puts the Prime Minister in charge of appointing ICAC commissioners. ACT NOW!, a community advocacy organisation, issued a statement rejecting the draft law. A few weeks later, the government announced it “would be sticking with the original 2015 ICAC Bill with no revisions”.
ACT NOW! welcomed this decision but asserted that:
“It is essential the ICAC is fully independent of other government agencies and full funded to investigate, charge and prosecute those accused of corruption”.
Having an independent ICAC provides a space for whistleblowers, watchdog organisations and investigative journalists, for example, to express their concerns over cases and acts of corruption.
According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent in Papua New Guinea, Erick Tlozek, reporting in PNG is challenging and although the government frequently asserts that the media are free, “it is a real challenge to report on contentious political events as there are negative consequences to reporting critical stories in Papua New Guinea such as being threatened with arrest and deportation. Even just getting people to speak on record in interviews is a challenge".