16 Jul 2010

Academic says Tonga's abolition of judicial body close to undermining system

3:37 pm on 16 July 2010

An Auckland University law professor says the abolition of Tonga's Judicial Services Commission comes very close to undermining the integrity of the justice system.

Tonga's Legislative Assembly has passed a law doing away with the commission, which appoints judges, passing the role to an appointee of the King.

Bill Hodge says the removal of the commission from the judicial system appears to be a last ditch effort to retain the trappings of feudal power.

"As I say the prosecution is still separate and the prosecution is controlled by the executive but it comes very darn close to undermining the appearance of independence and the appearance of impartiality and what should be a total disconnect from executive power and royal power. That's the whole achievement of the 17th century in England and the Act of Settlement, is judicial independence."

Professor Bill Hodge of Auckland University.