Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Friday, 26 June 2015
A US$95 million loan from China to the government of Papua New Guinea has led to legal dispute over an interim court ban on public criticism. Photo via PNG Loop.
Courts in Papua New Guinea must reject an order restraining public comment on a factory planned for Madang, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“The courts have a constitutional duty to protect human rights,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
“A restraining order against public comment fails to recognise strong constitutional protection for freedoms of assembly and expression.”
The case involves action involving a US$95 million loan from China, for a factory promoted by the PNG government and subject to a restraining order against the 11 people visiting the site, organising meetings or speaking publicly against the project.
Gabi said it was highly unusual for media to comment directly on an interim court decision.
“Usually, media stand back and wait for the courts to make a decision.”
But the restraining order strays way outside the law, says Gabi.
PFF Co Chair Monica Miller says the restraining order could set a dangerous precedent for Pacific law if allowed to stand.
“Gagging citizens from speaking out about a project strikes to the heart of democratic rights.”
“Government in Papua New Guinea needs to urgently address this issue and promote public opinion, not suppress human rights.”
The 11 people under the restraining order have successfully applied for their case to be heard on July 21st next month.
The motion was agreed to by Judge David Canning, who issued the initial restraining order.
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PFF Chair Titi Gabi | GM PNG Loop | Papua New Guinea Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob (684) 258-4197 | Office (684) 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
PFF Editor Jason Brown | Aotearoa New Zealand | Mob: +(64) 224340831 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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