The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is calling on Tonga’s authorities to reconsider any move toward instituting wider controls of the country’s media.
The IFJ also fully endorses the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in its demand for open discussion of any plans to remove protections of media freedom enshrined in the constitution of Tonga.
The calls from both organisations come after comments by Tonga’s Information and Communications Minister, ‘Eseta Fusitu'a, on TV Tonga earlier this month which referred to plans to legislate controls of Tonga’s print media to match a government-regulated broadcast environment.
The comments are particularly significant as Tonga prepares for elections later in 2010, the first under a new constitution.
Under current law, Tonga’s Government controls all broadcasting content. Similar laws designed to control print media were introduced in 2003 but were thwarted when media publishers won a Supreme Court case against the Government.
“The IFJ is concerned by any talk of controls upon Tonga’s press, particularly considering upcoming elections in the country and the controls already in force on broadcast media,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“Tonga’s leaders must take the opportunity to permit a free and open debate about any proposed changes to media regulation, acknowledging the vital social role of an independent and critical media in any society.”
Click here to read Clause 7 of the Tonga Constitution regarding freedom of the press.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
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