17 Nov 2008

Tonga MP says extension of state of emergency into a third year cannot be justified

7:39 pm on 17 November 2008

A Tonga pro-democracy MP, Clive Edwards, says there is no justification for a state of emergency being extended into a third year, following riots in Nuku'alofa in November 2006.

Mr Edwards, a former minister of police, says the army has abused its powers under the state of emergency and as recently as two weeks ago soldiers beat-up five people who were meeting in a private house.

He says the state of emergency should be lifted immediately.

"The law is nonsense because it says you bring it in to quell and stop or prevent a riot or restore peace and you've got to do that within one month. Once that's done you've got no justification for the emergency laws but here in this case we're going on for three years and that's how much respect they have for the people of this country."

Mr Edwards says he suspects the government is trying to provoke a reaction to justify the continuation of the state of emergency but that the democracy movement is encouraging its members not to fall into the trap.