Scott Waide: Any Facebook shutdown in PNG dangerous on many levels

The Post-Courier story that stirred up the Facebook ban controversy … now mixed messages from the PNG government. Image: PMC screenshot of PC

OPINION: By Scott Waide in Lae

Maybe it was a slip of the tongue or a misinterpreted statement… But there is no doubt that whatever it was that Papua New Guinea’s Minister responsible for Communications and Information Technology, Sam Basil, said this week has created a storm now being reported on global media outlets.

While some commentators are screaming “fake news”, others are taking it all in as a fact.

What gave this statement its legitimacy was its publication on one of Papua New Guinea’s two dailies – the Post Courier. The online version of the story has been quoted numerous times that has become the top story out of Papua New Guinea in the last 24 hours.

READ MORE: Facebook shutdown outcry – ‘a mockery to APEC’

The country doesn’t usually make it into the tech pages of websites, but it has.

Matt Novak from Gizmodo wrote: “The (PNG) government also said that it’s exploring the creation of its own social media site to replace Facebook.”

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John Russel from Techcrunch: “… the Facebook ban — however delicious it may sound given recent events — is not confirmed for Papua New Guinea. It remains a possibility once Basil has liaised with police.”

The suggestion to shut down Facebook is dangerous on many levels.

Papua New Guinea’s Facebook ‘ban’ … a global furore. Image: Scott Waide’s blog

PNG on back foot
Firstly, it places PNG on the back foot. It is a highly embarrassing position to be in as members of APEC discuss the region’s economic future with e-commerce and social media being a pivotal focus of the talks.

Any shutdown of Facebook for any length of time, is contrary to the spirit of the discussions where wider access to ICT forms the basis of future economic policies.

In Papua New Guinea, small businesses are starting to thrive. Their main avenue to sell to a wider customer base? Facebook pages. Not websites. Website developers charge a minimum of K2500 for a basic site. It is too big an amount for small businesses.

Not one to mince his words, the director of the Institute of National Affairs , Paul Barker, told The Fiji Times: “It would be a travesty if PNG sought to close down Facebook during the APEC month [in November], making PNG seem rather foolish, as it would be both an attack on embracing technology, undermining the information era and mechanisms for accountability, but also damaging business and welfare.

“Facebook is no longer just a platform for chatting to friends and relatives, and exchanging photos, it’s now a critical tool for information sharing and social auditing, and also a major platform for business, especially micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs).”

In Lae City where I live, Facebook is a primary means of reporting crimes to the police. The Lae Police Metropolitan Command has a Facebook page linked to its crime reporting systems and toll free number. It is an integral part of policing.

Primary disaster reporting tool
In Papua New Guinea, Facebook has become the primary disaster reporting tool used by rural communities.

In February, when the Highlands was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, the first pictures of the damage and deaths were posted on Facebook.

Yet it took at least two weeks before the National Disaster Center began collating the information that was readily available within 20 minutes of the disaster.

It is good that this debate is happening now instead of later.

Scott Waide’s blog columns are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. He is also EMTV deputy news editor based in Lae.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Lawyer Paul Paraka hits back at PNG state with ‘citizens’ rights’ lawsuit

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Lawyer Paul Paraka hits back at PNG state with ‘citizens’ rights’ lawsuit

Lawyer Paul Paraka announces he will go to court to clear himself and claim for damages. Video: EMTV News

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Embattled Papua New Guinean lawyer Paul Paraka has challenged the government with a lawsuit citing a section of the constitution never previously used for “breaching his citizen rights”, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

He has applied to the courts using a constitutional section that could imprison ministers, members of the anti-corruption Task Force Sweep, head of state agencies and banks for up to 10 years imprisonment for a breach of his rights as a citizen.

Paraka, who has made headlines since 2013 is testing Section 23 for a breach of Constitution that has never been exercised in the country since independence in 1975.

READ MORE: Controversial PNG lawyer seeks hefty damages payment

He is also seeking hundreds of millions of kina damages in the affair – known locally as as the Paraka saga – against the state, its agents and those individuals involved, reports Jeffrey Elapa.

Lawyer Paul Paraka with his lawsuit documents at the weekend. Image: Screen grab from EMTV News

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Paraka, who once owned one of the biggest law firms in the country prior to the controversial saga, said it was now his time to “declare war” on the state through the powers of the rule of law, seeking damages and justice from the court.

He said he was seeking orders from the court to invalidate all actions of the National Executive Council (NEC) and Task Force Sweep team and is seeking damages and compensation for the total loss of business, and seeks compensation from individual government officials and the state for almost half of the country’s annual budget allocation from a different category of damages.

During a media brief at the weekend, Paraka said he went to court to seek imprisonment terms imposed on those responsible. Section 23 deals with an abuse of the Constitution, imposing a jail term of up to 10 years.

Arrested and charged
Paraka was arrested and charged by the Task Force Sweep team in October 2013 in relation to the payment of legal costs by the state which were claimed to have been paid when there was a Supreme Court restraining order in place.

Paraka Lawyers had branches in all the 22 provinces with its headquarters occupying three floors at the Mogoru Moto Building in the capital of Port Moresby, and employed close to 2000 employees.

Paul Paraka said his company undertook over 6000 legal briefs for the state for a period of seven years from the year 2000, resulting in more than 30,000 legal invoices rendered to the state and were paid.

He said the payments, the subject of the allegations, were properly and lawfully authorised by the former Attorney-General and Solicitor-General for payment.

A National Court Order also authorised the payments.

Paraka said the sweep team alleged foul in the payments, alleging there was a Supreme Court order.

“If there was a Supreme Court order then it should have been a breach of contempt of court offence and is not a criminal offence,” Elapa quoted Paraka as saying.

Sweep team ‘wrong’
Paraka told the Post-Courier the sweep team was wrong, there was no Supreme Court order restraining the payment and that the National Court order that directed the payment was not challenged by the state.

He said the five NEC decisions to appoint a sweep team were unlawful and unconstitutional and also did not give any specific instructions to investigate Paul Paraka Lawyers.

He said as a result he was “destroyed badly” and went through “one of the hardest times in life” and was now seeking justice to get his business and his money back and to get his name cleared.

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PNG Mine Watch: Bougainville’s new ‘infamous’ Filipino mining company

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: PNG Mine Watch: Bougainville’s new ‘infamous’ Filipino mining company

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte exposes “illegal favours” to mining tycoon Eric Gutierrez, whose company SR Metals Inc has now won an exploration contract on Bougainville. Archlight Productions video shot during 2016 presidential election campaign.

BACKGROUNDER: PNG Mine Watch

Mine Watch recently predicted that Bougainville President John Momis’ appetite for crooked foreign miners was very much alive. How right we were.

In a gushing column in the Post-Courier – which reads like a salivating love poem – it was announced that President Momis had teamed up with his former nemesis – money bridges all divides – Sam Kauona to bring in a Filipino mining company to explore 183 square kilometres of land.

The company is called, SR Metals Inc., and is led by Eric Gutierrez. It has come to “liberate” Bougainville from its bloody history, we are told.

READ MORE: Philippine mining company wins Bougainville search licence

SR Metals president and CEO Miguel Alberto Gutierrez … accused of “corruption, clientalism, and illegal mining” in the Philippines. Image: PNG Mine Watch

Now while we might want to believe the Post-Courier, John Momis and Sam Kauona, as entities of integrity who would never lie, the ever sceptical PNG Mine Watch team decided to look at the track record of SR Metals Inc. and Eric Gutierrez.

What did we find?

Report after report in the Filipino press accusing SR Metals and its chief of corruption, clientalism, and illegal mining.

Indeed we are told Gutierrez is very fond of funding politicians who are good for his business.

‘Duping government’
And, no less, he has been accused of using fraud to “dupe the government and their business partners of billions of pesos in mining revenues”. Guess they saw President Momis and Kauona coming.

To cap it off, the company SR Metals, has been fined for environmental violations.

And a Senate inquiry found the company “over-extracted 1.8 million tons of nickel ore”, in violation of regulations. 

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

‘Embalming’ hampers autopsy finding in death of PNG journalist

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘Embalming’ hampers autopsy finding in death of PNG journalist

By Staycey Yalo in Port Moresby

The final autopsy report on Post-Courier journalist Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, handed to the Papua New Guinean Coroner’s Court last week, has an “undetermined death” finding.

PNG journalist Rosalyn Evara (left) on assignment. Image: EMTV News

Chief Pathologist Dr Seth Fose conducted the full autopsy and compiled the report, saying the cause of death was undetermined due to embalming, which had restricted the evidence at the time of autopsy, despite there being a reported history of domestic or physical violence.

While police investigations continue, Coroner Mekeo Gauli, said the journalist’s death earlier this month would not be taken lightly, as there was a huge public outcry for justice.

READ MORE: PNG prime minister O’Neill condemns violence against women, reports Pacific Media Watch

Evara died on 15 October 2017 at her company residence in the Port Moresby suburb of Boroko after she had complained of severe headaches.

The report of her death and the circumstances surrounding it received widespread calls for further investigations when her aunt, Mary Albaniel, revealed disturbing images of her bruised body during her funeral.

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The pictures, according to Albaniel, were taken a day after her death, before the deceased’s body was taken to the funeral home.

The body then underwent embalming, the process of preserving the human flesh after death to delay decomposition.

Common sense
Medical practitioners say it is common sense that the autopsy must take place before the embalming.

This is the basis for Dr Fose’s medical opinion. He stated that based upon the autopsy of tissue microscopy analysis and police report to the coroner, a cause of death could be determined.

Adding that the contributing factor in limiting identification and interpretation of evidence of injuries, trauma, and natural disease was embalming artefacts and changes present at time of autopsy in spite of the history of domestic or physical assault.

However, as the funeral pictures revealed, the issue has not been taken lightly.

Coroner Gauli said that because of the keen public interest in this case, the matter will not be taken lightly.

He told EMTV that in a situation where nobody is charged, it would be up to him to call an inquest for all involved parties to come forward and give evidence before the National Court.

Public outcry
When the police concluded their investigations, the death would go before the coroner to give his decision.

Detective Chief Sergeant Ulagis Mantu of the police Homicide Division said investigations were still ongoing because of public outcry.

He said that while the coroner himself will give his opinion on the matter of the final report, he was calling on Rosalyn Evara’s family to come forward and give him their statements.

Staycey Yalois is an EMTV News journalist. Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV News reports with permission.

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