24 June 1998


Agence France-Presse correspondent denied permission to visit Tonga

Incident details

Michael J. Field



(CPJ/IFEX) -On 19 June 1998, Michael J. Field, a correspondent for the news
agency Agence France-Presse, requested permission to visit Tonga to report
on the upcoming 80th birthday of His Majesty Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, King of
Tonga. He received a response on 23 June, in the form of a letter written by
Police Minister Clive Edwards, who handles immigration affairs, formally
denying the application. Edwards wrote that while "there is no such thing as
any person being banned under the Immigration Act," Field’s record as a
journalist in Tonga "has not assisted in [his] case."

Although Tonga typically allows journalists free entry, Field, who is based
in New Zealand and has covered Pacific island affairs for many years, has
been barred from the country since 1993, after publishing several articles
about Tonga’s pro-democracy movement. The police minister at that time
notified Field that he would thereafter be required to obtain advance
approval before visiting the country. Field was then denied entry to Tonga
in 1996 on the grounds that he had insulted Taufa'ahau. Police Minister
Edwards never substantiated that claim, but threatened to charge Field with
criminal defamation if he attempted to visit Tonga.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • urging the Tongan government to respect the right of free expression by
    reporting which it deems critical and allowing all journalists the
    to work in the country
  • asking that they reconsider Michael Field’s application and grant him
    permission to return to Tonga

    Appeals To

    His Majesty Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
    King of Tonga
    Palace Office
    Nukualofa, Tonga
    Fax: +415 781 3964

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 465 9568
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