7 Apr 2003

Tongan paper's owners say latest ban illegal

4:36 pm on 7 April 2003

The publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper, Kalafi Moala, says a new ban imposed on his paper is illegal and unconstitutional.

The Tongan Privy Council on Friday issued a new law called the Protection from Abuse of Press Freedom Ordinance, just minutes after the Supreme Court had ruled that three earlier bans against the paper were unlawful.

The new law makes it illegal for any person to possess, import, copy or distribute the Auckland produced paper.

The Privy Council says any actions under the new law are not subject to any judicial review.

Kalafi Moala says the new law does not have a legal leg to stand on.

He says they have written to the Government pointing out that such an ordnance can only be brought in in exceptional circumstances.

"That only happens when there is an emergency, and it also happens when there is no existing legislation to cover the methods at hand, but there is an existing legislation which has to do with the Prohibitive Publications Act, and it has to do with sedition and all of the existing legislation, which was submitted in their previous ban, and had been ruled out by the courts."

Kalafi Moala.

Meanwhile the Government is yet to publicly explain why it took such a step.