Tonga has a freer press than the United States, according to a global survey.
According to the latest report from the international journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders, Tonga ranked 44th in the World Press Freedom Index for 2015, while the United States came 49th.
The kingdom rose 19 places from 63 in 2014. In contrast, the United States dropped from 46th to 49th place on the new listing.
The Index was released to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
This year’s theme was ‘Let Journalism thrive’.
The international body said the democratic election Tonga held in 2010 contributed strongly to the best position ever it has in its World Press Freedom Index 2015.
It said Tonga had an independent press, which has established its role as a counter-weight to the government.
Last year, Tonga was placed 63rd, the same position it had in 2012 and 2011.
In 2007, the then government reacted angrily against Reporters Without Border after Akilisi Pohiva’s newspaper reported on its front page that Tonga had placed 119th.
The story cited the lack of transparency and government aggression against democracy supporters.
In February 2003, Reporters Without Borders protested against the Tongan government’s ban on the independent biweekly paper, Taimi ‘o Tonga. The paper had a long history of denouncing corruption and failed projects by King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.
In December 2003, Reporters Without Borders again criticised King Taufaahau Tuou IV for signing constitutional amendments and reintroducing press laws that allowed his government to maintain a ban on Taimi ‘o Tonga.
The international body said the king’s actions posed a serious threat to free expression and represented a huge step backward for press freedom.
In March 2005, Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of pro-democracy activist Alani Taione for distributing 20 copies of Taimi ‘o Tonga on his arrival on February 18 from New Zealand, where he was a resident.
Tonga’s ranking in the past 10 years:
2015 – 44
2014 – 63
2013 – 66
2012 – 63
2011 – 63
2010 – 87
2009 – No place
2008 – 82
2007 – 119
2006 – 53
2005 – 64
The Main Points
- Tonga ranks 44th in the latest World Press Freedom Index for 2015, five places above the United States.
- The kingdom rose 19 places from 63 in 2014, while the United States dropped from 46th to 49th place on the new listing.
- The Index was released by the international journalists’ organisation Reporters Without Borders to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
- The international body said Tonga had an independent press, which had established its role as a counter-weight to the government.