Assault of journalists unacceptable


The Media Council of Papua New Guinea has condemned the assault of a journalist this morning by members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). 

National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) journalist Rose Amos was kicked and punched by two police officers at the scene of a confrontation this morning between protesting University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students and the police. 

Ms Amos ran towards the police for cover only to be punched by a heavily armed policeman and kicked by another, resulting in her losing her balance and falling. Even her wearing of a NBC-logo shirt did not stop the assault with a third policeman punching her again before a senior police officer intervened and took her to a RPNGC Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle. 

The MCPNG condemns in the strongest possible terms the assault of the NBC journalist this morning by three members of the RPNGC. 

"It is unacceptable conduct and criminal for the three policemen to assault Ms Amos as she fled for cover from the melee. In such a situation it would have been natural for the journalist to seek the protection of the law. But sadly, in this instance, they turned out to be the perpetrators and attack the very people they swore an oath to protect," said MCPNG President, Alexander Rheeney. 

The use of firearms targeting unarmed peaceful demonstrators is also unacceptable and warrants an immediate investigation, in order to determine who fired the first shot and whether their actions were justified, added the MCPNG. 

Mr Rheeney said: "If Papua New Guineans want to embark on a peaceful demonstration to air their grievances on issues of concern then why use firearms? Papua New Guineans have the right to express themselves so why silence them with the use of firearms?" 

The assaulting of the Ms Amos comes a week after another journalist, Imelda Wavik of commercial TV station TVWAN, was assaulted by a plain-clothes policeman at the Boroko Police Station. 

"The increasing frequency in violence targeting journalists and mainly perpetrated by members of the constabulary does not augur well for the community. It is time for the Police Commissioner to address ill-discipline within the rank and file in the RPNGC and to arrest officers, whose shameful conduct continues to tarnish the image of the constabulary," said Mr Rheeney. 

The MCPNG urges all the parties caught up in the university student protests to exercise restraint and to refrain from using violence.