2 Sep 2004

Tongan Supreme Court judge reserves decision in democracy case

6:35 pm on 2 September 2004

A Tongan Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on a challenge against so-called anti-democratic changes to the Tongan Constitution.

In a four day hearing which ended today, his New Zealand lawyer Dr Rodney Harrison challenged a series of law changes made by the Tongan government late last year.

Dr Harrison says the law changes curb free speech, allow newspaper censorship and ban the sale of foreign newspapers.

He took the legal action on behalf of the Auckland-based Taimi o Tonga, Tongan-based newspaper Kele'a and democracy activist Alan Taione, who is defending charges of taking banned copies of the Taimi into Tonga.

The judge has reserved his decision, which is expected in about a fortnight.