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Media Group Says New Tongan Law Unacceptable

Pacific Media Group Says New Tongan Law 'Unacceptable'

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APIA (RNZI Online/Pacific Media Watch): The Tongan Parliament has been called on to reject laws aimed at curbing freedom of speech at a media conference in the Samoan capital, reports Radio New Zealand International.

The Pacific Island News Association (PINA) and Tonga media representatives have issued a joint statement saying they¹re gravely concerned at the government plans.

Members of Tonga¹s Legislative Assembly are to debate amendments to the constitution, which if passed, will limit the ability of the media to report freely on issues.

The president of PINA, Johnson Honimae, says this is unacceptable.

"They will impose restrictions on the media in Tonga, They're dictating what newspapers and media operators can say or report, so this would represent a severe infringement on Tonga society's inherent right to know what's been done in its name and the right of the media to inform people." - Johnson Honimae.

In a related development, the Media Operators Act became law earlier this week.

This restricts foreign ownership of the media in Tonga to 20 per cent.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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