Customs Officials Stopped Import of Times of Tonga Despite Ban Being Lifted

The International Federation of Journalists has sent a letter of protest to the Prince of Tonga, voicing its concern over customs officials not allowing 2,000 copies of biweekly paper Taimi 'o Tonga (Times of Tonga), into Tonga despite a recent court order lifting the ban of the newspaper.


Recommended action:


Send appeals:

  • Condemning the Government for not allowing the import of the Times of Tonga into Tonga.

  • Urging the Government to recognise the court's ruling on both the lifting of the ban on the Times of Tonga and the suspension by the court of the Government's cancellation of the newspapers publishing license.

  • Urging the Government to ensure press freedom in Tonga.



Appeals:


Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala

Palace Office

Nukualofa, Tonga

Fax: +415 781 3964


For further information please contact Jacqui Park at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au


Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au



The IFJ have protested to the Government of Tonga in the following letter:


29 May 2003


Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala

Palace Office

Nukualofa, Tonga


Fax: +415 781 3964


Your Excellency,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the continued deterioration of press freedom surrounding the Taimi 'o Tonga (Times of Tonga) case.


According to our information, on the 26 May the Supreme Court ordered the three-month ban of the Taimi 'o Tonga (Times of Tonga) newspaper to be lifted, allowing copies of the foreign-printed newspaper into Tonga.


According to our information some 2,000 copies of the newspaper have been flown to the island after the court hearing, all of which were confiscated at the airport in the capital, Nuku Alofa by customs officials who declared that they had not yet received instructions from the Government to allow them into the country.


The IFJ calls upon the Tongan Government to recognise the court's ruling on both the lifting of the ban on the Times of Tonga and the suspension by the court of the Government's cancellation of the newspapers publishing license.


The IFJ is deeply concerned that if the ban against the Times of Tonga are clear breaches of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The IFJ is concerned that these recent actions impede the right of the people of Tonga to independent news. The IFJ continues to call upon the Tongan government to uphold the decision and to allow the newspaper into Tonga.


Yours sincerely,


Christopher Warren

IFJ President