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Tonga launches Community Legal Aid Centre for survivors of Domestic Violence

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11th December, 2017 A joint collaboration between the Government of Tonga through the Ministry of Justice and the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), launched the Community Legal Aid Centre for survivors of domestic violence last Friday evening at the Ministry of Justice, Fasi-moe-Afi.

Speaking to more than 50 guests, the Minister for Justice Hon. Sione Vuna Fa’otusia said, the pilot project highlights, and represents the Government of Tonga; and particularly, the Ministry of Justice’s commitment to providing the people of Tonga with safer, easier, and improved access to our Justice systems.

“This new access to justice project is launched with the mandate and intention that vulnerable victims of domestic violence are now equipped with an easier, faster and free form of access to the protection services provided under the Family Protection Act. The significance of the Act is that, it enables victims to come forward in person and lodge a complaint directly with the Court.”

He told the gatherings that in 2016, there were 115 direct applications made at the Court registry on domestic violence complaints; in 2017, 154 direct applications were received.

“The total number of domestic violence complaints received and finalized by the Court Registry, and the Police, under the Family Protection Act, in 2016, was 442 cases. In 2017, the total number was 619 cases. This is an increase of 40% of domestic violence cases in a period of 1 year”.

“Analyzing these figures, and the increase in complaints, I personally believe that this Act, and the services that Government and Civil Society in implementing the law, have provided domestic violence victims with confidence in our laws, and our Justice system, so that it is easier for them to now come forward and seek help and redress,” he added.

Hon. Fa’otusia stated that with the support of the Pacific Community, and also the Pacific Judicial Strategic Initiative, to have members of their magistracy trained in dealing with the sensitive issues of domestic violence.

“Regular training for our court staff on the Act, and their duties under the Act, form an important mandate of the Ministry. We have created leaflets and posters that are available from the Court for victims of domestic violence explaining the processes and procedures of the Court.”

The Ministry has also partnered with NGOs to combat situations that may exacerbate this issue.

Hon. Fa’otusia concluded by expressing his sincere gratitude to the co-hosts, the Pacific Community, and in particular, the Regional Rights Resource Team, for opting to pilot the project in Tonga.

Present at the occasion were the Deputy Director General of the Pacific Community, Dr. Audrey Aumua, Senior Programme Manager from the Embassy of Sweden, Ms. Charlotta Bredberg, Japanese Ambassador HE Mr. Tetasuya Ishii, Advocate – Tonga National Centre for Women and Children, Ms. Lola Koloamatangi, representatives from NGOs and guests.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.

 

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