Media watchdogs condemn attack on journalist in Morobe

Expression

A journalist from the PNG Post Courier, Franky Kapin, was assaulted by staff from the Office of the Governor of Morobe Province after they made allegations that his reporting was biased.

Papua New Guinea Media Workers Association condemned the attack, stating that:

“Journalists play a vital role in ensuring news and events are reported for public consumption. This role is protected by the Constitution, so as the public’s right to information….we must work with the relevant authorities, including the Police to put a stop to this kind of behaviour. To this end, we demand that the Police arrest and charge the person(s) responsible. We also demand the Court to ensure the journalist be appropriately compensated for the physical and mental harm that he has been put through”.

The International Federation of Journalists also condemned the incident, saying that "when the media is intimidated, it only serves to weaken press freedom and the ability of the media to report freely and independently".

Four people have been charged with assault and the case is currently before the Lae District Court Magistrate.

Peaceful Assembly

Staff from the PNG National Weather Service went on strike on 5th January 2018 due to grievances around reoccurring salary discrepancies over the last nine years. NWS staff issued a strike notice on 20th December 2017, stating that if the government failed to amicably resolve the issue by the resolution dates set by the Public Service, Conciliation and Arbitration Tribunal, a nationwide strike would take place. The Department of Transport, however, responded only with a verbal agreement that it would address the issue, thus forcing NWS staff to proceed with the strike.

On 12th January 2018, the strike was called off after an agreement was reached with the Department of Transport.

As reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, refugee and asylum seekers detained in Australian-run detention centres on Manus Island have held peaceful protests after Australia withdrew all support services for the refugee detention centre on 31st October 2017 in an attempt to force the inhabitants out of the camp and move them to a new centre nearer to Lorengau town. The new centre reportedly has inadequate facilities and violence from the local community remains a constant threat.

On 23rd and 24th November 2017, PNG police and immigration officials raided the camp. Armed with sticks and knives, they yelled at refugees, threatened them with violence, and dragged them out of the camp and onto buses. The refugees were taken to three newer, but poorly resourced centres, some parts of which were still under construction and had interrupted supplies of electricity and water.