24 Feb 2012

Alarm among PNG media over monitoring plans

6:46 pm on 24 February 2012

A media advocate in Papua New Guinea says journalists are shocked and nervous after an official in the office of prime minister, Peter O'Neill, announced that people expressing what he called subversive views would be dealt with.

The official, Ben Micah, says a monitoring committee will be set up to look at the spreading of malicious and misleading information through social media, which he says would be regarded as a serious crime.

The Pacific Freedom Forum's PNG-based spokesperson, Titi Gabi, says if someone offends under the new edict it is not clear what punishment they would face.

"Well what they have said is anyone that they feel or think is going to say something against them they are going to take action but they don't specify exactly what action they will take."

The International Federation of Journalists has also raised concerns about the government's move.

But an official in the Prime Minister's office says it is Mr Micah's personal view and that Mr O'Neill supports a free and open media.

In the past two weeks, several journalists in PNG have been muffled by restraining orders issued at the behest of the government or people closely linked to it.