20 September 1996


Journalists Kalafi Moala and Filokalafi 'Akau'ola sentenced to 30 days in jail

Incident details

Filokalafi 'Akau'ola, Kalafi Moala


legal action

On 20 September 1996, Kalafi Moala, editor of the "Times of
Tonga", deputy editor Filokalafi 'Akau'ola, as well as member of
Parliament (MP) Akilisi Pohiva, were found in contempt of
Parliament and sentenced to 30 days in jail, to be served
immediately. The decision, handed down by the royal-dominated
Legislative Assembly, was in regard to the publication in the
newspaper's 4 September edition of a notice of impeachment that
had not yet been presented to Parliament. The motion, drafted by
Pohiva, had been intended to have Justice Minister Tupou removed
from office for allegedly going to the Atlanta Olympic Games
without the formal permission of the Assembly.

Deputy chief secretary to Cabinet Eceta Fusitu'a said that "the
`Times' had published the impeachment notice before the
impeachment stages had even taken place....The `Times' published
falsely that the minister was being impeached. The fact is that
up until this day [20 September] there is no impeachment."

While declaring that press freedom had always been a reality in
Tonga, Fusitu'a said that "this is not an issue of press freedom;
it is Moala's illegal use of the freedom of the press." She added
that the 30 day prison term was not draconian, stating that "a
journalist is subject to the same laws as any citizen."


International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre, Residence Palace
Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155
1040 Brussels
Fax:+32 2 2352219
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