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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Tonga

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Tonga, February 1998, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The tiny press community in Tonga is at the center of a struggle in a country whose proud monarchical tradition is often at odds with more democratic voices. Tonga's constitutional monarch, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, has the power to appoint the cabinet and prime minister, while half the single-chamber Legislative Assembly is appointed by the island's nobles and the other half is elected by universal suffrage. In this system, dissent has frequently been unwelcome.

The Tongan government has repeatedly tried to intimidate and restrict the Times of Tonga, whose editor in chief, Kalafi Moala, was denied reentry to the country in January on the pretext that he holds dual citizenship. As a result, he is exiled in New Zealand. The paper's business license was held up by Tongan authorities and appeared headed for revocation in February before authorities bowed to international pressure and renewed the permit. Tonga's pro-democracy movement holds six of nine elected seats in the parliament and has proposed a more democratic constitution for the country, but change has been slow. Crown Prince Tupouto'a issued a warning to democracy campaigners in August, telling parliament that those MPs who want democracy would suffer reprisals.

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