10 Jun 2010

Tonga government to change judicial appointment process

3:45 pm on 10 June 2010

The Tongan Government has indicated it intends to end Parliament's ability to impeach judges.

This comes as pro-democracy MPs have called for Parliament to take action against judge, Robert Shuster, who the Government has promoted as a potential new chief justice.

The King's speech to the latest session of Parliament says the appointment of judges is to be handled by a Lord Chancellor appointed by the monarch.

King George Tupou the 5th says this will ensure the judiciary is independent from political inference.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the changes follow criticism of senior political leaders in the report on the sinking of the Princess Ashika, but he notes the King made no direct reference to the disaster in his report.

"But the King did refer to the fact that he believes that the new system with the Lord Chancellor will secure the court, particularly when the weak come to court against the powerful, the government or a department of the government."