|Pacific Media Watch|
Government denies constitutional 'shut down' plan
Title -- 4217 TONGA: Government denies constitutional 'shut down' plan
Date -- 20 October 2003
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Radio New Zealand International 18/10/3
Copyright -- RNZI
Status -- Unabridged
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TONGA GOVERNMENT SAYS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES TO EMBED COMMUNICATIONS ACT PRINCIPLES
NUKU'ALOFA (RNZI Online/Pacific Media Watch): The Tonga Government has denied claims that the kingdom's constitution has been amended to shut the Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper out of the country.
The Legislative Assembly voted this week by 16 votes to 11 to change the constitutions Clause Seven a move opponents say will severely restrict freedom of speech.
The publisher of the Taimi 'o Tonga, Kalafi Moala, says the measure will possibly spell the end of the distribution of the paper in the kingdom.
However, the Government spokesperson Eseta Fusitua says the changes merely complete a process begun three years ago with the Communications Act, which was brought in to police the internet, television and radio.
She says the principles needed to be embedded in the constitution.
Good quality lawmaking should ensure that the principles are in the constitution to enable the specific bills to be made, so really in the case of the media, our principles were not fully embedded and quite clearly we did not have the individual bills to deal with the four mediums.
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