BANNED PUBLISHER: TONGA WANTS MUZZLE ON MEDIA

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Mar. 4) - Kalafi Moala, the publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper which last week was banned from Tonga, says the Tongan Media Association is a Government controlled organization set up to muzzle the media.

The Tongan Government banned the importing of the Auckland produced paper last week, claiming it was aiming to overthrow it and that its reporting was the unbalanced.

Government spokesperson Eseta Fusitua says the Taimi had an ethical responsibility to join the local Media Association, and that it may have to legally enforce this, to ensure media outlets became more accountable.

But Mr Moala says the paper could not be part of a body controlled by government.

"Their so called code of ethics is a code of ethics that says basically you do not criticize the Royal family, you do not expose corruption in government, you do not uncover things that would make the government look bad, both locally and internationally, so how can we subscribe to a code of ethics that will totally muzzle the voice of the independent media?"

Kalafi Moala says he hopes to have a judicial review of the Government’s ban. He also says that staff workers at the paper’s Nuku‘alofa office are being harassed by police.

March 4, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com 

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