The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) has urged law enforcement agencies in the Pacific region not to interfere with the work of the media and allow them to report without fear or favor.
PINA President Moses Stevens was echoing strong condemnations by the Media Council of Papua New Guinea (MCPNG) and the nation’s broadcaster, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) on the alleged use of firearms by PNG Police against University students demonstrating peacefully in Port Moresby on Wednesday.
The Police attacks was swiftly condemned by the MCPNG President, Mr Alexander Rheeney who said using firearms against unarmed students was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘warranted an immediate investigation’ by authorities to ascertain why Police resorted to the use of firearms. University students have boycotted classes for a month over demands for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to step down over allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
The PINA President said the freedom of citizens to express themselves is a democratic right for every Pacific Islander including Papua New Guineans and the use of firearms must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Mr Stevens has also condemned the attack on a female NBC journalist, Ms Rose Amos by Police during the confrontation between Police and university students on Wednesday. He echoed the call by the acting Managing Director of the NBC that the attack was ‘uncalled for.’
The assault on Ms Amos comes a week after another journalist, Ms Imelda Wavik of the commercial TV station, TVWAN was assaulted by a plain clothes policeman at Boroko Police Station.
The PINA President said the increasing incidents of attacks on journalists in Papua New Guinea is ‘worrying’ and urged the Government and law enforcement agencies to ‘work with and not against the media’ in the discharge of their duties.
The PINA President reiterated his call on governments of Pacific Island Countries to uphold ad respect the Freedom of the Media and protect journalists in their line of duty