Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Tonga
As of December 31, 1998

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In the Pacific's last monarchy, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV holds near-total power. The king rules with a 12-member cabinet he names and an 18-member legislature, half of which he also appoints. It is not a system that invites criticism.

The views of 'Akilisi Pohiva, a pro-democracy politician and the publisher of The Kele'a newspaper, have frequently provoked the government. In March, he was found guilty and fined several hundred dollars on two counts of defaming the minister of police through comments he made in his newspaper in 1997. Also in March, Pohiva was acquitted of criminal defamation stemming from a 1994  Kele'a article in which he called the king "a dictator" and accused him of "financial legerdemain" over a scheme to sell Tongan passports to foreigners.

In October, Tavake Fusimalohi, the general manager of government-owned Radio Tonga, was acquitted of charges of defamation brought by two senior government officials who alleged that an announcement broadcast by Radio Tonga in April had damaged their reputations. The station had accurately reported that the two men had been demoted and transferred to new jobs.
Attacks on the Press in Tonga in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
06/23/98 Michael J. Field, Agence France-Presse Censored

| Attacks on the Press in 1998 |