5 Apr 2003

Tonga Privy council issues new ban on Taimi O Tonga newspaper

8:07 am on 5 April 2003

Tonga's Privy Council has reimposed a ban on the kingdom's main independent newspaper, the Taimi O Tonga, just half an hour after the Supreme Court ruled an earlier ban was illegal.

The Supreme Court released a ruling yesterday saying that the government acted unlawfully in banning the Auckland produced paper from the country.

It was shut out of Tonga in late February after the government claimed it was trying to overthrow the government and create disaffection among the people.

It later expanded the ban, making the paper a prohibited document.

The publisher, Kalafi Moala, had this to say shortly after the Supreme Court ruling was handed down.

"I'm extremely thrilled with the decision. I had to go to Tonga, we had a New Zealand lawyer who came to Tonga to represent us. The case was about a week. We spent a lot of energy, time and money on it and so to get this kind of result is very gratifying."

Kalafi Moala.

But he says 20 minutes after hearing the result a lawyer for the Privy Council told his Tonga based staff a further ban had been imposed.

Mr Moala says the legal advice they have is that this ban is also illegal, but he says the Council has the ability to bring in law changes.