PNGFM has reported the assault of a male and female staff whilst covering the storming of Parliament last Tuesday.
During the chaos on November 20th over the delay in payment of APEC allowance, Parliament staff were assaulted including members of the media.
Whilst trying to cover the situation, police and correctional service officers caught sight of the two PNGFM reporters.
In a statement, the radio station said the female reporter was manhandled by a group of police officers who pulled at her shirt, attempting to rip it.
The reporter said: “One of the police officers pulled out my camera from my bag and smashed it right in front of me. While I was trying to take in what was happening, another officer pulled my bag, causing the leather handle of my bag to break.
“He then threw my bag on the ground, kicked it towards the other officers, they in turn kicked the bag back to him, emptying out all my belongings in my bag. Another officer picked up my phone and smashed it while others were shouting and yelling abusive languages.”
She said she was pushed back and forth during the commotion, with just one elderly officer attempting to assist her and help her out to safety.
Unfortunately, her male colleague was unable to help her as he himself was allegedly surrounded by police and CS officers, who kept punching him until a Mobile Squad officer pulled him to safety.
“I had my vest broken, my notebook gone and the company camera destroyed by the officers.”
PNGFM has written a letter of complaint to Correctional Services acting Commissioner, Stephen Pokanis, and Police Commissioner Baki, calling for those involved to be penalized.
In response to the incident, Baki labelled the treatment of the media personnel as ‘disappointing’.
“I know we have some incidents where journalists have been also assaulted by members of the police,” stated Baki. “It’s press freedom, freedom of press. They’ve got every right to take and do what they have to do.
“But at that time, maybe the emotions of the men have allowed them to do this but it is also wrong for them to do that.”
Acting CS Commissioner, Stephen Pokanis, has given his assurance that the incident will be looked into.
“It goes to anyone, if you have been assaulted by a Correctional officer, please come and see me,” he stated, indicating his knowledge of the Parliament staff’s assault as well.
“We will not just allow this to continue. I’m not just going to hide this somewhere and pretend that all is well.”
(Police and Correctional Service personnel at the Parliament during the November 20th incident)