4 Sep 2012

Policing by fear in Tonga to be stamped out: Commissioner

4:19 am on 4 September 2012

Tonga's new Police Commissioner says the culture of policing by fear has got to stop.

Grant O'Fee's comment follows the death of a New Zealand police officer in the capital, Nuku'alofa, 10 days ago.

The Tongan police say Kali Fungavaka was assaulted in a police cell after his arrest on a charge of minor drunkenness outside a bar in the town centre.

Two police officers Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau have been bailed on a charge of common assault until they appear in court on October the 1st.

A civilian who also allegedly assaulted Mr Fungavaka remains in custody.

Mr O'Fee, who is from New Zealand, says unfortunately a small proportion of Tongan police officers think it's OK to beat people they arrest.

"The bulk of the police officers especially the newer, younger police officers in Tonga are just as ashamed of this as I am but sadly, there is an element who are quite influential who cling to that way of doing things and it's just got to stop. And if people don't change then they must be prepared to accept the consequences - and there will be consequences."

The Tonga Police Commissioner, Grant O'Fee.