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Published on February 25th, 2009 | by Impunity Watch Archive

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State of Emergency Regulations Will Continue in Tonga

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga – The Tonga Government says state of emergency regulations will be in place until people in the capital city center feel safe again.

Nearly three years ago, the pro-democracy movement in Tonga turned violent, causing the death of eight and destroying Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa. The riots erupted after the Legislative Assembly of Tonga adjourned for the year without employing promised reforms.

Following the violence in 2006, the government issued a 30 day state of emergency, and has since renewed those regulations on a monthly basis.

The state of emergency regulations were expanded in September, giving Tongan police the power to stop individuals, search them without a warrant, and even enter into and seize evidence from any vehicle, ship, or aircraft.

Citizens complain that the regulations are too restrictive, while the Government contends they are necessary to ensuring security.

While Police Minister, Siaosi Aho, recognizes that the regulations have tainted the people’s image of the police and government, he also says there is no foreseeable end to the “special laws.”

“And this is one of the things that has convinced me that I should continue [with the emergency regulations] is the fact that the people had completely lost faith and trust in the police. We are running a programme now, strategically, to bring back this trust,” Aho said.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Emergency powers in Tonga’s capital won’t go until people assure Government they feel safe – 25 February 2009

ABC Radio New Zealand – Tonga reimposes emergency regulations – 10 September 2008

AFP News Service – Tonga extends area under emergency powers – 10 September 2008

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