PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- The Pacific Freedom Forum condemns the grenade threat against a Papua New Guinea journalist by Police force officers late last week, and is calling on the O'Neill government and the PNG Media Council to publicly support media freedom.Post Courier Business Editor Patrick Talu,was shown a hand grenade by a policeman who was armed with an M16 rifle, and ordered to leave the Port Moresby's Unagi Oval or be blown up. He was covering landowner/official skirmishes over a controversial gas pipeline project.
"The Pacific Freedom Forum condemns this latest threat and calls for decisive action from the highest levels of authority to stamp out this blatant and dangerous disregard of the rule of law,"says PFF chair Titi Gabi.
"It is frankly alarming that the PNG political leadership has yet to publicly and immediately discipline those involved in an escalating trend of threats to journalists. PNG's constitution protects freedom of information and journalists such as Talu are trying to keep the country informed at a time in history when it's important for journalists to be out in the field and witnessing to the nation what's happening."
"We applaud comments by the Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga that such behaviour is unacceptable and urge both the Police and the PNG Media Council leadership to bring the instigators of these threats to justice. Decisive action is urgently needed to ensure journalists can feel safe as they go about with the daily work of reporting."
The PFF call comes on the heels of an earlier statement by the regional media monitoring network following a statement from the office of the O'Neill leadership that a new commission to monitor and 'deal with' anyone accused of making 'subversive' comments, even via mobile phone calls, texting and social networks.
"The hard line image of a 'big-brother' state is evolving into a dangerous mindset of impunity amongst law enforcers when it comes to threatening the media. This is unacceptable and illegal, and must be stopped in its tracks," says PFF co chair Monica Miller from American Samoa.
She noted with concern that the grenade threat against Talu "is only the tip of the iceberg. Already colleagues, particularly women journalists, are being harassed but are unwilling to come forward. This acceptance of abuse and threats against journalists is not an acceptable part of news practice, and we must make the most of our networks to stand up to this criminal bullying."
"We stand in solidarity with our PNG colleagues at this uncertain time, call on the O'Neill leadership to publicly condemn threats from law enforcers against journalists and all PNG citizens, and urge the Police Superintendant Domnic Kakas, himself a former journalist, to do his utmost to help his team repair public confidence damaged by this behaviour."-