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Human Rights & Democracy Movement In Tonga

Human Rights & Democracy Movement In Tonga

“Hrdmt Urges Legislative Assembly To Reject Media Operator’s Bill”

The Human Rights & Democracy Movement in Tonga today issued a call to the members of the Legislative Assembly to reject the Media Operator’s Bill. The Bill seeks to prohibit non-Tongans from holding a licence to publish a newspaper in Tonga irrespective of which language it is published in or whether it is published for sale or free distribution.

Speaking on behalf of HRDMT, Lopeti Senituli said “The Media Operator’s Bill reeks of malice against Kalafi Moala and the Taimi ‘o Tonga even though neither is specifically mentioned”.

Senituli explained that the Bill was originally the Ordinance passed by the Privy Council on 16 May that sought to invalidate Taimi ‘o Tonga’s licence to trade. The Chief Justice had placed a temporary injunction on it on 26 May.

He further restrained the Government “its servants or agents or otherwise whatsoever” from revoking Taimi ‘o Tonga’s licence until “further Order of this Court”.

Despite the Chief Justice’s ruling, the Government tabled the Ordinance as the Media Operator’s Bill in the Legislative Assembly on 18 June. It was deferred for further consideration in July by a ballot of 12 to 11.

Four of the nine Nobles’ Representatives in the Assembly including the Speaker of the House Hon. Tu’ivakano and Hon. Ma’atu, the King’s second son had voted together with eight of the 9 People’s Representatives for the deferment.

The new version of the Bill follows “Taimi ‘o Tonga’s” current licence to run its full course.

“Now we are not sure whether we can muster the same numbers because two of the People’s Representatives are overseas and a final ballot could very well be taken this week”, Senituli said.

© Scoop Media

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