August 22, 2019



Pacific media rights watchdog PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum, is concerned over the heavy-handed sacking of senior Papua New Guinea journalist Neville Choi on Monday.

“We stand in solidarity with Neville, who is a well respected and leading Pacific journalist who has mentored and trained journalists across his nation. We also call on PNG Communications Minister Renbo Paita --given his powers over board appointments for EMTV's parent company-- to support a swift and independent mediation between all parties to resolve an escalating issue ,” says PFF Chair Bernadette Carreon of Palau.

Senior staff members including Acting news boss Meriba Tulo, long time News Editor Sincha Dimara and Lae Bureau Chief Scott Waide had condemned the reasons for Choi’s sacking in their public joint statement relayed via Facebook late yesterday. Last night there was no news bulletin for the first time in more than 30 years from EMTV, as newsroom staff had stopped work in protest at the termination.

Scott Waide had himself been reinstated after being stood down over his strong reporting on APEC last year, and a public outcry helped bring him back. But for today, all three have reported hey may face a similar fate for their show of solidarity when they report to work today.

Either way they have voiced no confidence in the acting CEO Sheena Hughes, and expect to continue the ‘stop work’ protest until their requests including reinstatement for Choi are met.

“Our concern at this time is that a quality news service cannot be suspended because news workers feel intimidated, unheard and unable to report without fear or favour, in the current environment,” says Melanesia co-chair Ofani Eremae of the Solomon Islands.

“The news team must be allowed to do their jobs, and the only way to do that is to work without fear of being shown the door, even for disputes which many employers would apply a warning or suspension for. There are some definite workplace standards which are of bigger concern in the long term.”

Polynesia co Chair Monica Miller from American Samoa says it’s important the government bring in a neutral mediation role keeping the public interest in mind.

“At the end of the day, ministers, board members and CEOs have to have a clear separation and understanding of their duties and powers, and neither should overstep-- but the reasons for termination of a senior journalist raise questions which clearly point to those powers being blurred, and the onus is on those at the top of the chain to do the right thing.
PNG Govt committed to ending Manus Islands Refugee processing center

PNG Govt committed to ending Manus Islands Refugee processing center

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) has made significant progress towards delivering on Prime Minister Marape’s commitment to end regional processing in Manus Province and has now offered refugees the opportunity to transfer to Port Moresby.

In announcing the offer, the Hon. Petrus Thomas, Minister for Immigration and Border Security, identified the offer to relocate as a positive and significant step towards ending regional processing “the Prime Minister was clear, he wants the RRA processing in PNG to end and Australian service providers to cease – and that is what we are delivering.

This is a positive move for these men, living in Port Moresby will enable them an opportunity to make their own personal decisions and move on with their lives. I am advised that many refugees have already expressed interest in the relocation and arrangements to facilitate their transfer are being progresses by ICA”.

Minister Thomas said that he welcomed the positive commentary regarding the flexible accommodation arrangements for refugees and believes that a range of measures implemented in the recent weeks have had a comprehensive impact on bringing the RRA to an end.

“This is a complex challenge and the Marape Government has recognised the need to provide strategic direction to this issue.
The clear direction of the Prime Minister to end processing has created the opportunity for solutions that support refugees away from the traditional facilities operated by Australian service providers in Manus Province. There is no disputing that ICA is gaining momentum in this space. When the Government took office, the number of persons in PNG under the RRA was well over 500 – today that number is under 370 and only 231 are refugees not engaged in settlement. That represents a decrease in the overall caseload of more than twenty five percent in under three months”.

Minister Thomas also took the opportunity to announce more refugees have departed for the United States.

Minister Thomas said ‘We have seen a further ten refugees depart today and many more will follow.

We wish these men the very best with their new lives. PNG continues to encourage those that would like to settle here to do so. I do want to be clear that the offer to relocate to Port Moresby is only made to provide support and assistance to refugees and is not contingent on settlement”.

Minister Thomas concluded by saying that he intends to address Parliament in the next session and will provide a detailed update on activities to meet the Prime Minister’s direction.

Minister Thomas said “I will use my address an opportunity to highlight the substantial work being undertaken in my Portfolio to address the RRA and how we, as PNG's border agency, are following the Prime Minister’s lead in taking back PNG”.

August 21, 2019

Solomon Islands Police  investigates dead body of a woman found in Central Honiara

Solomon Islands Police investigates dead body of a woman found in Central Honiara

Officers of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) are investigating the dead body of an 18-year-old female person found in the eastern side of the Holy Cross Cathedral Hill in Central Honiara this morning.

“The body of the female person believed to be 18 years old was found dead on the eastern side of the Holy Cross Cathedral Hill this morning (21 August 2019). Police investigators at the Honiara Central Police Station, officers of the Serious Crime Squad and Forensic officers attended the scene and started their investigation into this sad incident,” says Supervising Deputy Director of the National Crime Investigation Department (NCID) Inspector Michael Bole.
Inspector Bole adds: “When our team of officers arrived at the scene there was a large crowd of people gathered around the dead body. The scene was forensically examined and body taken to National Referral Hospital for further medical examination.”
“At this early stage we cannot confirm the cause of death as a post-mortem has to be carried out and we have to interview possible witnesses,” says Inspector Bole.
“I call on any member of the public who may have information about the circumstances that might have led to the death of the female person to come to the Honiara Central Police Station to give our investigators any information or call the Station on 22551 or 22999. Anyone with information should also contact the Police National Communication Centre on phone 23666.”
“I urge members of the public not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the death especially on Facebook. Let us instead assist police investigators to find out what really happened and bring those responsible to face justice,” Inspector Bole emphasises.
He adds: “I call on relatives of the deceased female person to remain calm and not to take the law into your own hands. Let us allow the police to do its work.”
“My deepest condolences to the family and relatives of the woman as you mourn the passing away of one of your members,” says Inspector Bole.