18 Mar 2003

New Zealand calls for freedom of expression in Tonga after paper ban

10:13 am on 18 March 2003

The New Zealand government has spoken out about the banning of the Auckland produced Taimi O Tonga newspaper from Tonga.

The Tongan language newspaper was classed by Tongan customs service as a prohibited import several weeks ago, and last week the Tongan Privy Council deemed it a prohibited document.

The New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, says the New Zealand High Commissioner in Nuku'alofa has expressed this country's views on press freedom to the Tongan government.

"We certainly would want to see freedom of expression protected in Tonga and elsewhere. There are matters of course regarding inaccuracies, lack of balance that from time to time are problems in the media but it's better to address those problems under the law governing libel and defamation if indeed the paper guilty of either of these things."