PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS--Another assault threat resulting in a TV film crew being forced to delete their footage has taken place in Papua New Guinea over the weekend.Regional media monitoring network the Pacific Freedom Forum is urging media bosses to get involved and support news workers in filing statements to Police.
EMTV journalist Mick Kavera and camera operator Gesoko Adrian were on assignment on Sunday 10 June at the Jackson's airport terminal to film the arrival of illegal immigrants being accompanied by members of the government-appointed investigative Task Force. According to Kavera, Task force members spotted the media crew filming during the mid-morning arrival and approached them, berating them in pidgin for media "misreporting" of their activities and telling them to await a formal statement. Adrian was also told to delete all the footage shot or the camera would be broken and he would be bashed. Some time after he had deleted the footage, the task force members did an about turn and apologised. The EMTV crew was invited to resume filming and complete their assignment.
"We commend the EMTV media crew for stepping forward and breaking the silence and urge their management to support filing of a Police complaint on this and future threats to crew safety on the field," says PFF co chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea.
She says the apology should not prevent or undermine the rule of law.
"An apology is welcome and should help as a mitigating factor in a Police investigation, but more than anyone the task force members will understand that this alone should rule any investigation out."
"What's important is that the general community and many other media workers get the point that it is criminal and illegal to walk up to journalists and any other law abiding citizen and tell them you will bash them up and break their cameras," she says.
Intimidation and threats against media workers have been previously identified as a key obstacle to better journalism by the new PNG Media Workers Association and is highlighted in a country chapter on PNG in the IFJ Asia Pacific Inaugural Pacific Press Freedom report. PNG's Police media advisor Dominic Kakas told journalists at the launch of the Pacific Press Freedom report on World Press Freedom Day in Port Moresby this year sharing information and experiences on social networking may help media workers, but nothing could be resolved in the legal system until journalists choose to take up their rights to lodge complaints with Police.
"Too often the abuse and intimidation of media professionals going about their jobs is accepted by journalists as part of a 'toughen up' culture of news-gathering. That's a stereotype which plays into the hands of abusers when many journalists just don't understand what is happening may in fact be illegal," says PFF co chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.
"We acknowledge the challenges involved in breaking the silence and acceptance of abuse, but continue to urge PNG and other Pacific media colleagues to take up their legal rights as citizens and journalists so that the wider community is also educated on what news reporting involves."