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Journalist beaten in Papua New Guinea over critical story

(PFF/IFEX) - Monday, October 29, 2012 - Another attack on a journalist in Papua New Guinea has been condemned by regional media monitoring body the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

Post-Courier correspondent Michael Koma was viciously attacked after his October 11th report into high level local government appointments in the Highlands province was published in PNG daily the Post-Courier. Two days later, four men approached Koma as he sat outside a relative's house in the Highlands district of Kundiawa, and after questioning him over the story, beat him until he was unconscious. He was rushed to hospital and has since recovered from the attack.

"The use of violence to silence and intimidate journalists is both deplorable and criminal and we commend Koma and the Post Courier management for reporting this to the authorities," says PFF co chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea. Gabi has previously researched media freedoms in Papua New Guinea and noted a reluctance from media colleagues to report and follow up on abuse and intimidation from those angry at media coverage.

With the police investigation into the assault currently underway, Gabi says it's imperative that journalists continue to report assaults and threats to themselves and colleagues.

"The culture of impunity over journalist bashings, threats and intimidation will only change when we stop accepting criminal attacks and abuse as part of the work we do," she says.

"Pacific journalists stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Papua New Guinea. We continue to support the call for vigilance and alerts to the threats against freedom of media, especially reporting that supports right of people to know what is going on," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.

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