HM King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV
The Royal Palace
Kingdom of Tonga
Vienna, 22 September 1996
The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and news agencies from 86 nations, is deeply concerned over the jailing of journalists in Tonga. As reported by the Pacific Island News Association, Mr. Kalafi Moala, editor and publisher of the Times of Tonga and his deputy editor Filokalafi Aka’uola, were sentenced to 30 days in jail.
We are informed that the paper published the text of a writ of impeachment against the Minister of Justice, which had been given to the paper by an MP. On the following day, the Legislative Assembly denounced the report as “incorrect,” because the motion of impeachment had not yet been submitted and initiated judicial procedures for contempt of parliament. The charges of contempt and the sentence of 30 days in jail are totally out of proportion to the supposed offence, considering the fact that the information was provided by a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Akilisi Pohiva,. The jailing of this MP, in connection with the reported case, is another indicator, that this whole judicial procedure is rather a case of harassment and intimidation than of justice.
We therefore appeal to Your Majesty to make use of all possible legal procedures to remit the punishment by an act of grace and to initiate the necessary legal steps to bring your country in line with the basic rights as stated in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Johann P. Fritz