13 Jun 2003

Tongan newspaper to seek compensation for losses

3:28 pm on 13 June 2003

The publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper says he will seek compensation for the costs of a protracted battle with the Tongan government, which had banned the paper for nearly four months.

The New Zealand produced paper was finally back on sale yesterday in Tonga after the Government bans were overturned by the Supreme Court.

A two and a half week old edition of the paper, which had been impounded by Customs, was distributed and sold out within two hours.

The publisher, Kalafi Moala, says the ban and the legal action have been costly, resulting in a number of staff being laid off.

"We are going of course to make some claims on damages or at least the losses that have been incurred by the paper not being sold in Tonga in all the weeks it has been banned. We've had of course legal costs, so we are going to try to recoup some of that cost."

Meanwhile, the Human Rights and Democracy Movement in Tonga has vowed to take measures of civil disobedience should the government again ban the newspaper.

It says in case of a new ban the Movement's office would download 20 pages worth of articles from each Taimi O Tonga edition and make the information available to the public for free.

Until yesterday, the newspaper was a prohibited document.