Media watchdog group launched in Papua New Guinea PDF Print

Date:  15th September 2009

Region/Country: Papua New Guinea

A media watchdog group was recently launched in Papua New Guinea to see that freedom of expression is upheld and not abused in the country, according to Pacific Scoop.

Members of the committee, called the Independent Media Standards Committee, were appointed in July and participated in a media ethics and paralegal training workshop in Lae.

By Evah Banige

PORT MORESBY (The National/Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinea’s Independent Media Standards Committee has been set up by the Constitution to see that freedom of expression is upheld and also not abused, committee members say.

Members of the committee participated as observers during a media ethics and paralegal training workshop organised by the Media Council of Papua New Guinea in Lae.

The committee, appointed in July, comprises chairman John Toguata, former assistant police commissioner and director of investigations with the Ombudsman Commission and currently adviser to the Law and Justice Sector on Anti-Corruption; Simon Pentanu, former Clerk of Parliament and former Chief Ombudsman; Fr John Glynn from the churches; Professor John Luluaki of the University of Papua New Guinea; and former secretary to the National Executive Council (NEC) Winnie Kiap.

The IMSC was formed after a recommendation of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission review of the media industry in the mid-1990s and is independent of the Media Council.

Toguata said that freedom of speech in PNG was guaranteed by the Constitution, making the free press a strong pillar of democracy.

He said the IMSC would protect the freedom but at the same time ensure that it was exercised with the greatest care, responsibility and accountability.

Toguata said the workshop was timely as it provided a framework with the PNG Media Code of Ethics.

He said the media’s responsibilities to communicate and educate should be practised with accuracy and sensitivity with balanced views of all parties to a story at all times.

He said the ethics code provided clear parameters which must be enforced by all media houses.

These same ethical  parameters would be the standards by which the IMSC – as the overall media watchdog – would ensure in upholding the integrity of reporting and information dissemination by journalists nationwide.