Media Council concerned over harassment of media ahead of June elections

Expression

The Media Council of Papau New Guinea has renewed its call on the government to stop the escalating harassment and violence against media personnel covering the country’s 2017 general election campaings. The election will be held 24th June to 8th July. 

In May 2017, EMTV media workers were verbally and physically assaulted. The election news crew was working around Port Moresby, when supporters of a particular candidate attacked them and demanded that the journalists delete video footage.  

Peaceful Assembly

University students in Papau New Guinea are still waiting for the government to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into those police officers who, a year ago, opened fired on a peaceful protest. According to Amnesty International, the government promised three enquiries, but to date “no one has been held accountable”.

In June 2016, university students were protesting and calling for Prime Minister O’Neill's resignation over corruption allegations. According to reports, at least 38 protesters were injured when police started “firing directly into the crowd”. After the protest, the University of Papua New Guinea won a court injunction banning further protests.

Following this incident, CIVICUS urged the government to “respect the right of citizens to protest peacefully and to conduct an independent investigation into the violence against the protesting students with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice”.

Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, in response to the impunity in the case of the 2016 protest, declared:

“People took to the streets to voice concerns about corruption, and the only government response was gunfire. Corruption and abuse will only end when abusive officials are held responsible for their crimes".