PM Sogavare made the call during his nation-wide COVID-19 weekly address, Friday.
“The media has been quite unacceptable in discharging its duty to the people of this nation.
“I call on the media to be more responsible and to exercise the required ethics and standards that is expected of them,” said Sogavare.
Sogavare said the country is a democratic country that is governed by the principles of democracy. And freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights that are provided for under our constitution. Like all other freedoms and rights, they are not absolute except for the non-derogable rights.
“The restriction on freedom of expression in the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (NO.2) Regulation 2020 which was published in the Gazette on 6th May 2020 are under Regulations 23, 25 and 26.
“These Regulations were made by His Excellency, the Governor General in the exercise of powers conferred by section 2 of the Emergency Powers Act (Cap. 11).
“Regulation 23 prohibits a person from spreading rumors and false information during the state of public emergency that is likely to create or foster public alarm, anxiety or disaffection or to produce public detriment,” he said.
He explained, in short, this Regulation stops people from spreading lies that may cause social disharmony or public alarm and anxiety under the pretext of freedom of expression. “The people of this nation deserve to be told the truth.
“During a state of public emergency when everyone is in an agitated state we must exercise great responsibility in what we say.
“Fellow citizens, Regulation 14 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (NO.2) Regulation 2020 gives me the power to suspend access to media outlets under certain circumstances as outlined in that particular Regulation by way of an Order.
“To date despite numerous cases I have not made any Order to that effect.”
By ESTHER NURIA