Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > IFJ Concerned by Threats to Free Speech in PNG

IFJ Concerned by Threats to Free Speech in PNG

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) are gravely concerned by the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s announcement of a new ‘monitoring’ committee, tasked with identifying those expressing views it considers ‘subversive’.

On Wednesday February 22, the O’Neill/Namah government’s Chief of Staff, Ben Micah, emailed a press release announcing details of the new committee to local journalists, as well as posting the release on a PNG media page on social networking website Facebook.

The release states that any person found using their mobile phone, email or Facebook to spread information considered ‘malicious and misleading’ will be considered to have committed a serious crime and will be ‘dealt with’.

The statement raises strong concerns for free speech and individual privacy rights, as it appears to criminalise the personal use of phones, email and social networking websites without a clear legal mandate. The statement also threatens unspecified punishment for those found to be using personal communications technology in a manner deemed “illegal and detrimental”.

“Freedom of speech is a key requirement of good governance”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.

“Policies and laws which attempt to censor or punish those expressing themselves online, or via other communications technologies, violate this core principle of democracy.

The IFJ believes that PNG’s existing laws are sufficient to allow authorities to investigate legitimate acts of subversion, and urges the Government of PNG to reconsider any plans it may have for the monitoring and criminalisation of personal communications.

The press and public should be able to express themselves freely without fear of intimidation or criminal prosecution”

PNG has seen a recent rise in threats of violence against journalists, including a recent incident where soldiers at the Murray Barracks in the country’s capital of Port Moresby threatened to shoot PNGFM reporter Tauna George.

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  1. Karsie
    February 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    This move by the Govt to censor all forms of media is frightening. PNG, despite it’s political and economic problems has always pride itself in the freedom of speech/media, and important pillar of democracy. There is no democracy when this is removed. Media should not be censored. Rather, Political leaders have to learn and accept that freedom of speech is crucial in every democratic country. It promotes transparency and accountability and therefore, part of life. Modern systems of social media make these happen. Hence, there must be resistance from all fronts to ensure that this authoritarian, dragonian, despotic style of handling people’s freedom to speak out is not curtailed.

  2. February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hello Mr Ben Micah, welcome to the modern world of IT!computers,iPhones,wireless divices etc etc …. Sori tumas Olsem u still stap yet Lo tumbuna pasin blo salim toktok or toksave… The Internet and modern communication and freedom is here to stay wether belden Nama/Oneil and Micah like it or not. Period. We will fight for our freedom and democracy.. We do not want Gestapo,or dictatorship etc etc…

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