O’Neill Sues PNG Opposition Leader For Defamation

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

O’Neill Sues PNG Opposition Leader For Defamation Namah allegedly said PM stole money, received kickbacks

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 30, 2013) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has filed a writ of summons in the National Court in Waigani, suing Vanimo-Green MP and Opposition Leader Belden Namah for defamation.

The defamation proceedings relate to statements Namah made on April 25, 2013, in a public gathering in Morobe province which were broadcast television station by EMTV.

EMTV, its reporter Scott Waide, and news editor John Eggins have also been named as defendants in the writ.

The writ stated that during a public gathering in Buang, Morobe province on April 25, 2013, Namah made certain allegations against the prime minister.

Among them included uttering words to the effect that O’Neill had stolen money from the National Provident Fund and was now stealing from Papua New Guinea.

Namah also uttered words which alleged that the prime minister was receiving kickbacks from contracts awarded by the Government.

The writ said the words spoken by Namah implied that the Prime Minister was dishonest and corrupt, and was unfit to hold office as prime minister.

The writ said that from the words spoken, the public was likely to shun, ridicule and despise the prime minister.

The prime minister has described the words said by Namah as malicious, highly defamatory and false statements made to gain political mileage.

"I’ve sued Namah. He has an opportunity to front up in court and provide evidence for the very serious allegations he has raised, or face the consequences," O’Neill said.

"He cannot run away from it. We live in a democratic society and free speech is a fundamental principle of our institution. But the laws that guide our democracy and free speech, allow us to do so with an exercise of responsibility.

"As leaders, we must debate public policy in a constructive and informed manner, not attack the personal integrity of others with unfounded and false statements."

O’Neill commenced the defamation proceedings against Namah on May 9 under the Defamation Act and the principles of common law.

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