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Media Challenge Opens In Tonga Court


Media Challenge Opens In Tonga Court

http://www.taimiotonga.com

AUCKLAND (Taimi 'o Tonga/Pacific Media Watch): A judicial review challenging the amendment to Clause 7 of the Tongan Constitution last year started in the Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, today.

Clause 7 established new restrictions on media publications in the kingdom, drawing widespread protest amid claims that it curtailed freedom of speech.

A total of 173 plaintiffs, including individual citizens, businesses, MPs and a news organization, filed for a judicial review, claiming that the amendment of Clause 7 and the introduction of restrictive media laws by government was unconstitutional.

The hearing was presided over by Justice McElrea. The counsel for the plaintiffs was human rights lawyer Dr Rodney Harrison, from New Zealand, and representing the Crown were Paul Radich and ŒAminiasi Kefu.

The first witnesses called by the plaintiff¹s counsel were Pesi Fonua, chairman of the Media Council Inc. of Tonga and publisher of Matangi Tonga, and Mateni Tapueluelu, editor of the Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper.

The hearing is scheduled for five days.

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE
http://www.pmw.c2o.org

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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