26 May 2003

Tongan government re-states ban on Taimi O'Tonga newspaper

11:31 am on 26 May 2003

Tonga's independent newspaper, Taimi O'Tonga, remains banned from the country this week after the government re-issued an order preventing its distribution.

A ruling from a court decision on earlier bans on the publication is due to be released today.

Chief Justice Gordon Ward decided in April that an original banning order was illegal but King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV issued an ordinance re-banning it immediately

It is that -re-banning that is at the centre of the latest Supreme Court challenge.

Taimi O'Tonga's editor, Kalafi Mo'ala, said he had been advised that the latest ordinance had been drawn up and signed earlier this month, but kept secret until last week.

At the same time, a newspaper backed by Tonga's Royal family has launched a petition calling for the dismissal of Justice Ward.

Justice Ward has ruled against the government in several cases including that of Taimi 'o Tonga.

He also presiding last week over a government bid to win sedition convictions against three leading pro-democracy campaigners.

The three, including politician 'Akilisi Pohiva, were acquitted.