IFJ Condemns the Banning of Times of Tonga

The International Federation of Journalists has sent a letter of protest to the Prince of Tonga, voicing its concern over the continued deterioration of press freedom surrounding the Taimi 'o Tonga (Times of Tonga) case.


Recommended action:


Send appeals:


Condemning the banning of the import of the Taimi 'o Tonga (Times of Tonga).

Ask the Tongan government to air its grievances on the content of the newspaper through democratic means under either Tongan or New Zealand law.

Urging the Government to ensure press freedom in Tonga.

Appeals:


Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala

Palace Office

Nukualofa, Tonga

Fax: +676 24102


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


For further information contact Jacqueline Park at IFJ Asia.


Asia Pacific Regional Office

International Federation of Journalists

ifj@ifj-asia.org





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


8 April 2003


Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala

Palace Office

Nukualofa, Tonga

Fax: +676 24102


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, the Kingdom's Privy Council has gazetted a supplement extraordinary ordinance which makes it unlawful to import, sell, distribute in any form (including electronic form) the Taimi 'o Tonga.


The ordinance forbidding the Taimi 'o Tonga follows a decision by the Kingdom's Supreme Court that the earlier governmental bans on the New Zealand based Tongan-language paper were unlawful. The new ordinance will not be subject to judicial review by the courts and any offenders under the ordinance will be liable to a fine of up to 1,000 Pa'anga or two years in prison.


The issuing of the ordinance also follows the issuing of writs for contempt of court against five people who discussed the case on a television program. Three are human rights activists, one is the television station manager and one is a journalist.


The IFJ is deeply concerned that the recent ban and the subsequent Privy Council ordinance outlawing the distribution of the Times of Tonga are clear breaches of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The IFJ asks the Tongan government to air its grievances on the content of the newspaper through democratic means under either Tongan or New Zealand law. Your government can take this case to the Independent and self-regulated New Zealand Press Council, in addition the government can explain its viewpoint through the Tongan news media.


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 reverse these decisions and to allow the newspaper into Tonga.


Yours sincerely,


Christopher Warren

IFJ President