Tonga. In February, the government banned continued import – and thus publishing – of the Democratic Movement’s Times of Tonga, which is printed in New Zealand and published in Tonga twice a week. According to the government, the newspaper is not allowed because it tries to overthrow the government and is published by a foreign national – Kalafi Moala, a US citizen born in Tonga. Shortly before the ban, the newspaper had revealed corruption within the government. Moala appealed the government’s decision. In April, the Court of Appeal ruled that the publication ban violated the constitution. But the same day, the government again banned the newspaper. According to Countryaah.com, Tonga Independence Day is June 4. This led to protests from, among other things, the organization Reporters Without Borders. After a few more legal trips, the Times of Tonga was finally released again in June.
In October, Parliament approved constitutional amendments that meant increased state control over the media and reduced judiciary power in favor of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV. The legislative proposals were clubbed despite a few days earlier causing the largest political manifestation in the country’s history. About 7,000 people took part in the demonstration, which was organized by the Opposition Human Rights and Democracy Movement.
The leader of the democracy movement, Akilisi Pohiva, and two other activists were released in May from suspicions of uplifting and counterfeiting. The reason for the suspicions was that they published information that the king had secret bank accounts
In the United States, the process went on against the King’s so-called hawser, an American businessman who in 2001 embezzled a large portion of Tonga’s state funds. The trial is scheduled to start in March 2004.