‘Do not harass journalists’

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 10th July, 2012

PAPUA New Guinea journalists covering the 2012 election results and petitions must be able to work safely without fear of harassment, the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) says. 
The regional media monitoring network made the call in a statement yesterday following assault threats and an abusive confrontation last Wednesday in East Sepik.
Newsroom staff at a provincial head office for the national broadcaster, NBC, including radio journalist Gregory Pegines were confronted by an angry mob led by a senior administration official.
He and a group of supporters converged on the NBC East Sepik broadcast compound in Wewak and singled out Pegines, station manager Anna Klawe and other news journalists for verbal abuse and threats. 
The incident came a day after Pegines filed a report on a petition signed by 12 candidates in the East Sepik province, listing allegations of fiscal and official abuse of position.
Pegines said he had been invited to meet with the senior official since the incident, but was again verbally abused.
“We condemn the mob mentality encouraged by the senior official and the verbal threats and harassment against media workers,” PFF co-chair Titi Gabi, from Port Moresby told PFF.
She noted that journalists in provincial areas were more at risk of threats and abuse during elections periods, and called for calm to prevail.
 “Any grievances over news content should be submitted in a reasonable manner to the news outlet involved. We denounce the use of abusive and criminal harassment to force a culture of fear on the news agenda,” PFF co-chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa, said.
“We commend PNG journalists continuing to abide by ethical conduct through difficult times, and again urge all media outlets to implement a no-drop policy on reporting harassment to the authorities,” she said.