3 Apr 2008

Tongan force plan to learn from Fiji experience

2:37 pm on 3 April 2008

More details are emerging of plans for a para-military unit dedicated to protecting the Tonga capital, Nuku'alofa, much of which was destroyed by a riot in late 2006.

A discussion document suggests the unit, which has been tentatively dubbed 'His Majesty's Company of Watchmen' would be raised as part of the army and later incorporated into the police.

Don Wiseman has more.

"Apparently some want to see the Watchmen as a permanent army unit but the document warns the riot showed that the country is in too much danger for the forces of law and order to start indulging in rivalry. And it warns that Tonga does not want its military to degenerate in the way the once great Fiji army has, as it suggests, as a result of prolonged police work. It says that is why the Watchmen will be brought under a re-trained police force. It says the concept is based on the 17th century forerunner of police forces when bands of citizens were formed to provide security. The document says forming a new security unit means something unique can be created without the interference of self appointed experts. It says the officers of the Watchmen will be qualified to serve as magistrates allowing them to deal instantly with some offences, from traffic control, vandalism violence and burglary."