Local and foreign reporters told not to directly contact the Prime Minister
The office of the prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has enforced new media rules which could affect not just the work of journalists but also undermine press freedom.
On August 31, the office of Prime Minister James Marape published a full-page public notice in two newspapers, National and Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, informing journalists that they can no longer directly contact the leader, and instead they should direct their questions to appropriate government ministries.
This circular is to advise all members of the media fraternity, both national and international, that the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape MP will no longer accept direct press enquiries from the date of this correspondence onwards.
The prime minister has been accommodating and has responded openly to our media ever since he took office in 2019. We would like to continue this partnership by streamlining your queries to our relevant ministries.
We are all in this game. It's our country and we need you. Media, you make or break leaders and paint either a good or bad image of your and our children's nation. We all work for the good of our country. Let's not get that wrong … support the PM. Take back PNG for us all.
…the requirements appear to be ludicrous and an affront to media freedom in PNG.
We ask the simple question, what have we got to hide from public scrutiny?
Our foreign friends should not be turned away on some ridiculous belief that they may stumble on some hidden secret that will unplug the government.
If the government is serious, it should allow its ministers to be interviewed regularly by foreign and PNG media on a weekly basis on issues of interest to the nation including why corruption remains the biggest stumbling block to development in PNG.
We cannot be seen as a nation that is suddenly turning against the most powerful source of information in the world – journalism!
It is in no way, in its message disseminated yesterday to the mainstream media, implying a recent intention to restrict foreign media from traveling to PNG.
A long-time blogger in PNG has a reminder for authorities who want to restrict the work of foreign journalists:
And Mr Marape should know that journalists will write stories about PNG whether they visit there or not.
As press freedom continues to decline across the Pacific, any restriction on journalists is a concerning development. The IFJ urges Prime Minister Marape and Papua New Guinea’s government to maintain press freedom and due consultation with the media, and allow journalists full and unfettered access to government proceedings.