16 Jul 2010

Tonga Government dumps independent judges' body, gives King control

8:56 am on 16 July 2010

The Tonga Governrment has abolished its independent Judicial Services Commission and given the King control over the selection of judges.

It yesterday repealed the Judicial Services Commission Act, abolishing the body that has been appointing judges.

The role is to be filled by the Lord Chancellor who is appointed by the King.

Such a move was predicted by former Attorney General John Cauchi, when he resigned suddenly in April.

Mr Cauchi said one reason for leaving was the undermining of judicial independence.

Our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu says pro-democracy MPs have been making the same argument in Parliament to no avail.

"It has been argued time and time, over and over again in Parliament by the People's Representatives, implying the King would have too much power over the judiciary, but the result appears to have no reflection on that."