A new law in Tonga that would address the use of any communication platform to abuse, harass or otherwise harm another is awaiting the king’s signature to become law.
The Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told local radio FM 89.5 recently the Legislative Assembly has passed the Bill and it is now still at the king’s office.
As Kaniva News reported previously, Tu’i’onetoa said the government wanted to make it an offence to post content that’s offensive, threatening, defamatory and that caused distress.
He said the so-called Internet Abuse Offences legislation was “a very important bill for the poor people of the nation.”
He said people had been bullied and intimidated on social media by others creating fake Facebook accounts to hide their identity.
The Prime Minister’s revelation came after another Bill the government said last year was aimed at gagging Tongan civil servants on criticising the government.
As we reported in November this was part of an attempt by the government to limit the right of civil servants to freedom of expression, even, apparently, when they are speaking in a completely private capacity.
Attorney General Linda Folaumoetu’i reportedly said civil servants could be punished under the law for defamation in writing or emojis.
The law can be used against civil servants who support a group on social media whose political views go against the government and could cause disorder.
Mrs Folaumoetu’i said civil servants must maintain high standards of behaviour and treat political and civil service colleagues with respect.
“They have to be politically independent.”