17 May 2007

Tongan minister questions rights of those caught in riots

5:26 pm on 17 May 2007

The Minister of Police in Tonga has questioned the rights of those taken in for questioning over the Nuku'alofa riots, saying a study that found many riot suspects were abused by police and soldiers, is one-sided.

Tonga's Community Paralegal Taskforce found that 41 per cent of people interviewed by security forces following last year's riots had suffered physical abuse, and 77 percent of those arrested by soldiers claimed to have been physically violated.

The Minister of Police, Siaosi 'Aho, has told Radio Tonga News the report is one-sided because it doens't include any comment from police.

He says it seems the report was trying to advocate the rights of those who are suspected of carrying out the riots, and asks about the rights of those who were victimised by the rioters.

The Police Minister does concede abuse may have taken place, but it's up to the courts to decide whether police and soldiers acted illegally.