20 Apr 2017

Call for restorative justice after Tonga booze crackdown

4:02 pm on 20 April 2017

With Tonga police continuing a crackdown on alcohol related crime, there is a call for the country to consider restorative justice for first time offenders.

The Central Police Station in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa.

The Central Police Station in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa. Photo: RNZI/Gareth Thomas

Since July police have made hundreds of arrests after a surge in fatal car crashes and criminal activity blamed on alcohol abuse, and the process continued over Easter with many more arrests.

The chairman of the Tonga Civil Society Forum, Drew Havea, said he backed the police campaign but he wondered if more could be done to ensure first offenders avoid having criminal records, but still reflect on their behaviour.

"Probably a lot of misdemeanour, minor things that we can look at restorative justice and have the whole discussion on that issue in our own communities. I think the police are reaching out, getting much stronger with community police. Why don't we have restorative justice as part of that community policing, where you can bring the community to be more responsible."

Mr Havea said increasing poverty and unemployment has caused some people in Tonga to view crime as a livelihood.

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