8 Dec 2003

Commonwealth Amnesty International concerned about Tonga

4:52 pm on 8 December 2003

The Association of Commonwealth Amnesty International warns that restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly by the Tongan Government could turn into a conflict situation.

Convenor Ced Simpson says that as a Commonwealth member, Tonga should realise that control of media freedom and civil society threatens democracy and development.

He says closing down the free press makes it difficult for civil society organisations to form and is often the beginning of serious human rights violations.

Mr Simpson says members of the Commonwealth secretariat and Pacific states should monitor Tonga's situation closely and where timely, provide assistance to the government.

The Tongan government has consistently denied restricting the media.