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Governor leads more abuse against PNG media

(PFF/IFEX) - 5 July 2012, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS - Papua New Guinea journalists reporting the 2012 election results and petitions must be able to work safely without fear of harassment, says the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

The regional media monitoring network has made the call in the wake of assault threats and an abusive confrontation yesterday Wednesday 4 July. Newsroom staff at a provincial head office for the National Broadcaster (NBC), including radio Journalist Gregory Pegines, were confronted by an angry mob of supporters led by East Sepik Governor and Member for Yangoru/Saussia, Peter Wararau Waranaka.

The Governor, his driver and a group of supporters had converged on the NBC East Sepik broadcast compound and singled out Pegines, station manager Anna Klawe and other news journalists for verbal abuse and threats. The incident came a day after Pegines had 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 says he had been invited to meet with the Governor since the incident, but was again verbally abused.

"We condemn the mob mentality encouraged by the Governor and the verbal threats and harassment against media workers," says PFF co-chair Titi Gabi of PNG. From Port Moresby, she noted that journalists in provincial areas are more at risk of threats and abuse during election 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," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.

"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 says.

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