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Journalist assaulted by police

(PFF/IFEX) – 22 April 2012 – Rarotonga, Cook Islands – The Pacific Freedom Forum condemns the brutal attack by uniformed police officers of Papua New Guinea journalist Mark Kayok on the evening of Saturday 21 April, in Port Moresby.

Kayok, a police rounds reporter with the National Broadcasting Corporation, has reportedly sustained a broken nose amongst his injuries and is currently recovering at home.

The incident was reported in the morning bulletin on NBC radio on Monday 23 April. Kayok had been on assignment on Saturday evening before meeting up with a friend who was wearing his police uniform. Returning home, they were tailed by a mobile Police Unit who stopped them at a service station in 5-mile and began assaulting the police officer. When Kayok tried to stop the attack, the assailants asked him who he was. He identified himself as an NBC journalist and was also beaten up by the group of police officers who told him media were not reporting positively on them.

"We strongly condemn these crimes and call on those in authority to let the rule of law prevail, and investigate and prosecute those behind this shocking and despicable act. Not only did this attack involve a fellow law enforcer, but the citizen who tried to come to his aid also became a victim after it was found he was a journalist," says American Samoa-based PFF co-chair Monica Miller.

The assaults come in the wake of ongoing tensions within police ranks in the PNG capital, after reports of fighting between factions of Highlands and NCD-based police in the last week. "We urge the leadership to ensure the safety of all PNG citizens, especially when it's those paid to protect them who are their biggest threat. The media must be able to safely do the work of keeping the public informed at a critical time in the nation's history and we are gravely concerned at ongoing reports of threats and harassment. We urge the government and law enforcers to respect the role of the fourth estate, and uphold their own duty to serve and protect the people of Papua New Guinea."

Miller says it's important that the leadership in the police and government quickly investigate and stand down the perpetrators of the beating and strive for peaceful settlement of the current tensions within the Police ranks, while keeping open lines of communication with journalists.

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