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PNG: Morobe Governor sacks officer involved in assault on journalist

Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu... "I will not tolerate violence." Image: Scott Waide/EMTV

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Item: 10107

By Scott Waide
LAE, Papua New Guinea (My Land, My Country blog/Pacific Media Watch): Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu has apologised for an assault on a Lae-based Post-Courier journalist one month after the incident happened.

He has also told members of the media that the staff member who assaulted journalist, Frankiy Kapin, has been sacked and new staff have been appointed.

Governor Saonu received strong criticism after he delayed making a public statement to condemn the assault by staff member while the matter was in court.

This led to a month-long standoff between journalists and the governor’s office during which all media events by the Morobe provincial government were turned down.

“The staff member concerned has been terminated from his job as an administration officer as a result of the incident and for bringing the office of the Governor into disrepute,” he said.

“I am setting this precedence as a warning to all of my staff as well as staff within the Department of Morobe that I will not tolerate violence of any sort.”

The assault was condemned by the PNG Media Council and various international organisations, including the United Nations and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Journalists from media organisations welcomed the governor’s statement.  

Official answers difficult
Senior journalists expressed a view that the stand-off began primarily because it has been difficult getting official answers from the Governor’s Office on various issues, including the investigation into the spending of K44 million (US$13.6 million) by the previous administration.

“Personally, I don’t want this standoff to continue,” said NBC’s Gabriel Lahoc who responded to the Governor’s statements. “It is detrimental to the development of the province and to the people. But we have to make a stand against the violence.”

EMTV journalist Julie Badui-Owa, who was also threatened during the assault, said it was important that the integrity of the office was protected.

“As of 13 March, 2018, I refuse to be assaulted or threatened in any manner by any staff of the Governor’s office. I also want to know who your officers are as well as their phone numbers and what jobs they do.

“So in the event that you are not present, we can get responses from them.”

The Governor’s Office has since announced a restructure. A full list of staff members and their contact details will be released next week.

Earlier story

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