“This is an historical moment in Tonga’s parliamentary history, the Bill has taken us three weeks to debate on and on behalf of the women, children and men of Tonga, I thank the Chair of the Whole Committee for his good guidance during those deliberations and the members of parliament for showing your support for this Bill” said the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Lord Vaea, following the full majority vote in favour of the bill.
The development of the Bill was an initiative of the Government of Tonga through the Ministry of Education, Women’s Affairs and Culture Women’s Affairs Division, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team. We acknowledge the technical and financial support rendered under the MOU in 2010 between Government and the SPC that has culminated in this fruitful outcome for the protection of the family in Tonga, especially the women and children.
This is a good practice not only in Tonga but in the region, of a collaborative partnership between the Ministries of Education and Training, Internal Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Police, the Civil Society and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
While the passing of the Bill includes amendments made by the Whole Committee during the second reading, the changes remain minor. “The core areas of the Bill have remained intact despite some very heavy debating and at times opposition from members of the House. For example, the protection order that increases the powers of police to issue orders on the spot, while strongly opposed by some members, has remained in the Bill,” according to the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The Government currently financially contributes to the operations of the two service providers for victims of domestic violence, the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC) and Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC). The Ministry of Police has in operation a Domestic Violence Unit. The Ministry on Internal Affairs Women’s Department will continue to facilitate the coordination of the implementation of the Bill and is looking forward to the continued collaborative partnerships and support between inter ministerial agencies, the civil society and development partners. For more information, please contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Women’s Affairs Division, tel 27 145, email firstname.lastname@example.org.