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Date Posted: 00:05:24 12/15/03 Mon
Author: Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF)
Subject: Open letter on Tonga and news media restrictions

re: 4258 - RSF protests over constitutional ploy

Dear Sangster and Members of Kotoa Movement

It is really disappointing that His Majesty King Taufahau Tupou IV has signed the Constitution Amendments to authorize Press restrictions under the Newspaper Act and Media Operators Act in Tonga. This is a huge backward step for Tonga. As your organization supported the introduction of these repressive legislations, we appeal once again to your members to use your influence on the King not to ban the "Taimi O Tonga" and intimidate other news media organizations in Tonga. We wish to remind you that under Article
9 of the Cotonou Agreement (to which Tonga is a Party). Tonga has a commitment to respect (quote) and: "promote and protect all fundamental freedoms and human rights, be they civil and political or economic, social and cultural".

The amendment to the Tonga Constitution and related
legislations, we believe, cannot reasonably be justified under Article 9(2) and other Sections of the Cotonou Agreement. The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (Fiji) has therefore decided to write to the ACP and EU Secretariat regarding breach of Tonga's obligations under Cotonou asking ACP/EU to commence
political dialogue with the Tonga Government under Article 96 of Cotonou as a case of special urgency. We urge you members of the Kotoa Movement to bring this to the attention of the Tonga Government because flagrant violation of Cotonou by a member state
could mean "appropriate action" by means of sanctions. You need to be aware that Tonga is party to international Trade and human rights Agreements such
as Cotonou that the Government must observe.

We look forward to your cooperation on this matter.

Rev. Akuila Yabaki
Chairperson
NGO Coalition on Human Rights

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