3 Mar 2003

Tongan government may introduce laws to make media accountable

12:25 pm on 3 March 2003

The Tongan government says it might have to force media to sign up to the Tonga Media Association's Code of Ethics.

One of the reasons given for Tonga's banning of the Auckland produced Taimi O Tonga newspaper is because it had not committed to the Association's code.

The government's spokesperson Eseta Fusitua has rejected claims it was silencing a critic in banning the paper.

She says it was giving Tongans an unbalanced view, and she says this is evident in a comparison of the paper and the parliamentary record.

Ms Fusitua says the government might introduce legal obligations concerning the media:

"....and that is to require, perhaps, that members of the media become accountable to the code of ethics of their peers and the reason is the media must be accountable to something. Among .the things it must be accountable to is the ethics of its own peers, like the law society, because without this then you don't have adequate protection for the rights of the people to good journalism. That's one of the problems with the Taimi."