30 Aug 2004

NZ lawyer challenges constiutional changes in Tongan Supreme Court

7:21 am on 30 August 2004

A New Zealand lawyer is challenging what he is calling anti-democratic changes to the Tongan constitution in the Pacific Island's Supreme Court today.

The Tongan government enacted a series of law changes last year which curb free speech, allow newspaper censorship and ban the sale of foreign newspapers.

Rodney Harrison QC is challenging the laws on behalf of the Auckland-based newspaper the Times of Tonga, a Tongan-based newspaper Kele'a, and more than a hundred people who signed a petition.

He's also representing the Auckland-based democracy activist, Alan Taione, who is defending charges of taking copies of a banned newspaper into Tonga.

The hearing is expected to last three days.