PNG MP’s bid to bar media fails

Aiye Tambua

An application in court to stop the Papua New Guinea media from reporting on an alleged sexual offence incident involving Goroka MP Aiye Tambua was thrown out Thursday. 

Magistrate Paul Puri Nii, sitting in the Waigani Committal Court, refused the application by Tambua’s lawyer, saying media freedom is everybody’s freedom. 

Nii told the leader: “People won’t kill you. You are a leader, and you are subject to critics. For me, I am not going to bar the media. 

“Being a magistrate, being a judge, being a leader, you are subject to critics, and that’s nothing. That’s going to either correct you or lead you in the wrong direction. But it’s up to you. 

“I advocate for media freedom so I think that aspect of the motion, I will refuse it.” 

Nii said the media were “the ears and the eyes of people and that was why he advocated for media freedom. 

Nii granted the motion seeking orders to allow Tambua to travel out of Port Moresby, but said he had to return before 09 May, which is the next court returnable date. 

Tambua, through his lawyer Edward Sasingian, filed a motion seeking orders to: 

*Allow the defendant to continue to travel out of Port Moresby; and, 

*Restrict the media from reporting on the case on the basis that the media has caused repercussions on the defendant and the victims. 

Sasingian also informed the court that he had served a copy of the motion on the prosecution and both had agreed on the position (to restrict media) until a determination is made in the committal proceedings. 

He referred to a District Court decision which barred the media on reporting, but Nii said: “For me, I advocate media freedom. Other magistrates may bar the media but this is court room two, my court, so media has the freedom to report.” 

Nii said media freedom is everyone’s freedom. 

“Being a leader, you are subject to critics and that’s normal.” 

Nii also urged media to report on facts. 

“If you want to report on the matter, come to the courts, get the court files and report on the matter,” he said. 

Tambua’s case was adjourned to 09 May, for further mention, after prosecution informed court that police are still doing investigations to establish the allegations and produce a hand-up brief. 

The 45-year-old of Goroka’s Massy village, Eastern Highlands, was alleged to have committed the sexual offences on the three victims (all family members) on different occasions over a period of time. 

Tambua is facing 26 charges and had his bail was extended.

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