11 Dec 2002

Tongann journalists confidence will be boosted by successful suit against Government

5:42 pm on 11 December 2002

The publisher of the Taimi o Tonga newspaper, Kalafi Moala, says his successful suit against the Tongan government is a victory for media in the island kingdom.

Mr Moala was awarded nearly 8-thousand US dollars while, pro-democracy MP Akilisi Pohiva and former editor Filo 'Akau'ola were awarded 9-thousand dollars each.

The three had taken a case against the government and Police minister, Clive Edwards, for wrongful imprisionment relating to their month-long jail term in 1996.

The men were jailed after Mr Pohiva informed the newspaper of an impeachment motion before it was tabled in parliament.

Mr Moala, who now resides in Auckland, says the ruling will give Tongan-based journalists more confidence to do their work.

"It encourages them greatly, that they need to keep doing the work in a professional manner and that this case will become a warning to government and those in authority, again, that they shouldn't be continuing to bring harassment on those that are in dissent and those that are raising a critical voice in the country."

Kalafi Moala.