12 Jul 2022

Pacific news in brief for July 12

2:29 pm on 12 July 2022

Concern over increase in violence in Tonga, surplus announced in American Samoa, and action urged over West Papua

Spike in domestic violence after volcanic eruption in Tonga

Domestic violence cases have risen significantly in Tonga since January's volcanic eruption, according to the Director of the Tonga's Women and Childrens Crisis Centre, 'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the centre now handles an average of over 50 cases per month compared to between 25 and 30 before the eruption.

She said domestic violence hiked soon after the eruption, with nine rape cases reported in the first two months.

"It was such a challenging time in Tonga, and in the first weeks," she said.

"The Crisis Centre is part of a case management team with the Tonga Police. Tonga Police said out of all the total crimes in the first four weeks, domestic violence is at the top, and we weren't surprised. We knew that was going to happen."

Big fiscal surplus revealed in American Samoa

American Samoa's governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga has announced a surplus of $US7.4 million from the previous fiscal year.

Lemanu said the financial condition for the government and the territory as a whole is great.

American Samoa's Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga at the Pago Pago launch of Talofa Airways

American Samoa's Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga at the Pago Pago launch of Talofa Airways Photo: RNZI/Monica Miller

At Tuesday's joint session for the opening of the fourth and final regular session of the Legislature, the governor said his Administration is preparing proposed legislation to be funded with this surplus.

For the current fiscal year 2022, the governor said revenue collection is doing well, with $92 million in collection at the end of the second quarter on June 30, while expenditure is only $78 million.

He said the latest financial report indicates that the government is expected to get a surplus at the close of financial year 2022.

For the new fiscal year 2023, he said the government is proposing a $690 million budget bill, which is a slight increase of about 25 percent from the current fiscal year.

West Papua campaigners urge leadership at PIF

The West Papua Action Aotearoa group says the New Zealand government must show leadership for West Papua at this week's Pacific Island Forum summit in Fiji.

Spokesperson, Catherine Delahunty, said the government must ensure the Forum renews its commitment to having a UN Human Rights Commissioner visit Indonesia.

She said the Forum needs to put diplomatic pressure on Indonesia to allow this visit and New Zealand can play a strong role in this.

Delahunty said New Zealand needs to support the call for independent mediation to stop the violence against West Papuans and start negotiations over their self determination.

Three more covid deaths in Fiji

Fiji's Health Ministry has recorded 289 new cases and three covid-19 deaths, with the total number of active cases in the country at 604.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong said the national seven-day rolling average of cases as of July 7 is 69 daily cases.

The ages of the victims range from 64 to 86.

Niue and Tonga leaders discuss martime boundary

The leaders of Niue and Tonga have met on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji.

In a statement, the Niue government said they discussed the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the countries.

Niue Premier Dalton Tagelagi spoke with Siaosi Sovaleni about the importance of the Niue/Tonga maritime boundary.

Tagelagi said it is critical for marine conservation, natural resource management, governance, peace and security.

He thanked the Kingdom for providing a patrol boat to assist with the Taiwanese fishing vessel when it ran aground at Niue's Beveridge Reef in late May.

Pacific leaders pay tribute to ex-Japanese PM

Pacific leaders are expressing their condolences to Japan in the wake of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination.

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni issued a statement on Tuesday morning praising Mr Abe as a rare leader who took personal interest in strengthening relations between the countries.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called Mr Abe a true friend to Fiji and a model for every leader.

Papua New Guinea's caretaker Prime Minister James Marape credited him for initiating numerous development projects in PNG.

And New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern described Mr Abe as a kind man who helped usher through many complex negotiations.

A private funeral for Mr Abe will take place later today.