15 Jul 2003

Tongan Police Minister told to stop misinterpreting Supreme Court rulings

4:32 pm on 15 July 2003

The Human Rights and Democracy Movement in Tonga says the police minister, Clive Edwards, must stop mis-interpreting Supreme Court rulings.

Director, Lopeti Senituli, says a local newspaper article featuring Mr Edwards shows he is mis-interpreting what the court had ruled in regard to the recent Taimi O Tonga newspaper bans.

Mr Edwards, who is a former lawyer, said the court ruling means imported pornographic material could no longer be declared offensive because the Prohibition Publications Act had been unconstitutional.

But Mr Senituli says that is not his interpretation.

He says the Chief Justice made it clear the Act was only inconsistent with the consitution under certain circumstances.

"Those conditions are, when the order by the Privy Council does not state very clearly the reason why such a publication is considered to be not in the public interest."

Mr Senituli says it is important that Mr Edwards interpret the ruling correctly because of his influence over his Government colleagues.