5 Aug 2010

Tonga inquiry into alleged govt interference in judiciary

8:16 pm on 5 August 2010

Tonga's Privy Council is setting up a commission of inquiry to look into reports the government attempted to unduly influence the judiciary's independence.

It follows allegations of government interference by John Cauchi when he resigned as Attorney-General in April, Radio New Zealand International reports.

Mr Cauchi said the appointment of judges by the executive without reference to the Attorney-General or the Judicial Services Commission was unconstitutional and compromised the integrity of the judiciary.

The commission is to be abolished and judges' appointments will be made by an appointee of the King.

A statement from the Privy Council says it is keen to reassert that it will not tolerate interference with the judiciary and that it will protect its integrity and independence at all times.

Cabinet ministers in Tonga also sit on the Privy Council.