8 Dec 2017

Legal aid planned for Tongan family violence victims

8:40 am on 8 December 2017

The head of Tonga's Justice Ministry says a planned new community advice centre will give free legal advice to women and children who seek protection from family violence.

Domestic violence

Photo: 123RF

The Ministry and the Regional Rights Resource Team will be opening the centre near the Magistrates Court in Nuku'alofa early next year to provide legal aid and advice to survivors of domestic violence.

Tongans will also be able to access the service by phone, and from legal advisors travelling to the outer islands on the regular court circuit.

The Justice chief executive, Susana Faletau, said the public needed more education on how to end a problem that they avoid dealing with.

"There's this attitude of shame. You know too often we put up this mask of the strong Christian country that we are and so naturally we don't want them to see that this kind of domestic violence and abuse is occurring in the family home. That mask has to come off if we are going to fix the problem."

Susana Faletau said she hoped people of any age will feel they can reach out to the Ministry for advice and legal support to help address family violence.