15 Jul 2010

Tonga former attorney general to begin lobbying to scrap whipping

6:41 pm on 15 July 2010

A former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Tonga says she'll be lobbying to scrap whipping as a criminal penalty following an Appeal Court decision to overturn a sentence imposing it.

Justice Robert Shuster's February sentencing of two 17-year-old offenders to six lashes and imprisonment for burglary and escaping from prison met with strong opposition and sparked calls for the punishment to be outlawed.

'Alisi Taumoepeau, who lost her posts after clashing with the Prime Minister over interference in judicial appointments, says the Appeal Court judgment was mainly in response to the excessiveness of Justice Shuster's sentence.

But she says the whipping penalty, which hasn't been imposed for almost 30 years, must go.

"The court had commented on it because it was very unusual feature and I think everybody's agreed even though it's on the books it's inhumane and shouldn't be there. It's barbaric."

'Alisi Taumoepeau says a private member's bill proposing the removal of whipping from the legal system has not yet been tabled in parliament.