CLASS ACTION TO BE FILED AGAINST TONGA MEDIA LAW

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Maganti Tonga, Jan. 28) - A total of 152 plaintiffs are signatories to a writ calling for a judicial review of the media legislation enacted by the Tonga government last year.

The new law curtails freedom of speech and brings new restrictions on print media licensing.

'Akilisi Pohiva, the Tongatapu, Number 1 People's Representative to the Tongan Legislative Assembly, said in Nuku'alofa yesterday that he was forwarding the names of the plaintiffs to their legal counsel, Rodney Harrison QC, in Auckland, New Zealand.

He said he expects the writ to be filed with the Tonga Supreme Court within two weeks.

'Akilisi said that the 152 plaintiffs are from throughout Tonga, from Niuafo'ou, Niuatoputapu, Vava'u, Ha'apai, 'Eua and Tongatapu.

"There are individual citizens, seven members of parliament, media organisations, NGOs, senior religious leaders, town officers, district officers, and business people," he said.

'Akilisi said that the call for a judicial review of the recent amendment to clause 7 of the constitution and the two media acts was significant because it was a concerted effort by the people and not just by an individual.

The seven elected officials who are the driving force in the call for a judicial review include the three People's Representatives for Tongatapu, 'Akilisi Pohiva, Feleti Sevele, and 'Isileli Pulu; the PRs for Ha'apai, 'Uliti Uata, and Fineasi Funaki; the PR for Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou, Sione Peauafi Haukinima and the PR for 'Eua, Sunia Fili.

January 29, 2004

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

 

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