15 Jul 2010

Tonga's Appeal Court overturns flogging sentence imposed on two teenagers

11:11 am on 15 July 2010

Tonga's Appeal Court has overturned a flogging sentence imposed on two 17-year-olds by a British judge serving on the island, describing it as a cruel and inhumane punishment.

The teenagers, who pleaded guilty to multiple burglary and escaping from prison, were sentenced to six lashes and a total of 13 years in jail by a Commonwealth high court judge from Britain who was appointed to Tonga in 2008.

However, the appeal court on Wednesday found the prison terms "and the sentence of whipping were excessive" and instead sentenced the youths to a total of six years in jail.

The judgment said this is the first time in almost 30 years that a judge in Tonga has ordered prisoners to be whipped.

It said in light of international conventions it might be argued that the whipping provision is now unconstitutional.

Flogging was introduced in Tonga by the British and is still legal on the islands although it has not been used as a punishment since the 1980s.