Media Intimidation, No Freedom
Another low point came yesterday when another Papua New Guinean journalist was threatened by senior members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary for maintaining contact with the suspended head of the Police Fraud Squad, Matthew Damaru.
The seasoned journalist working for a daily newspaper was threatened with arrest simply for doing his job and doing what is a fundamental part of his job – maintaining contact with an important source.
It is infuriating that we, as a country have allowed arms of government to stoop low to threaten those whose job it is to speak out for those who are unable.
It should be noted that over the last decade, there have been several attacks on journalists in PNG. Violent physical attacks affecting their families as well an legal intimidation by people who hold positions of power.
While the arrest did not eventuate, the fact that a threat was issued has struck at the heart of constitutional rights of freedom of the media and freedom of speech.
A free media able to challenge a government and those in positions of power and to hold them to account is vital for a vibrant democracy to thrive and to ride out political and economic turbulence a country many be going through.
A people cannot be silenced. The act to silence the masses by silencing the media is – as history has shown – always unsustainable and always short lived.
While Papua New Guineans have not protested violently, it does not mean a dissenting voice cannot be heard.
Silencing a journalist is so old school and reeks of 70s and 80s Latin American military dictatorships.
It is what is done by 21st century, Asian regimes that attempt to stifle and control public opinion in the age social media. It simply does not work.