The United Nations and the United States have issued a joint statement condemning any effort to curb media freedom in Papua New Guinea.

The statement follows the week long suspension of EMTV journalist Scott Waide last month for reporting thought to have embarrassed the government.

In May, another senior journalist, Titi Gabi, said there was no media freedom in PNG and reporters were working in fear.

The statement said concerns over media censorship in PNG were growing which may dilute reporting and negatively impact the public’s right to information.

It called on the government to adopt laws that protect independent journalism and to create an atmosphere for journalists to operate freely without fear and favour.

“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any democratic society. A free press has the power to transform societies and foster economic growth and build the confidence of investors. We all depend on it,” the statement said.

“In Papua New Guinea, journalists have shown their determination and professionalism to play their role in nation building. They have contributed to make democratic institutions stronger and strengthened public engagement.

“Their critical analysis of politics, the economy, environment, and society bring light to issues affecting all Papua New Guineans.

“Any loss in media freedom should not be taken lightly, for the rights of journalists and the rights of citizens are inextricably linked.

“Plurality of media is also crucial to foster diversity of views and counter misinformation.

“The United Nations and the United States stand with journalists and media professionals and condemn any effort to curb media freedom. Together, we call on the Government, civil society and the public to recognize the important work of the media, and to stand up for freedom of expression.”