21 Sep 2009

Tongan pro-democracy MP explains why he voted against CEDAW

5:15 am on 21 September 2009

A pro-democracy Member of Parliament in Tonga says he voted against a United Nations convention aiming to improve women's rights, because of the land ownership customs in the Kingdom.

Akilisi Pohiva says Parliament discussed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, for two hours and most of the house supported the Prime Minister's call not to ratify the treaty.

"Here in Tonga our land tenure system is a really delicate issue. If parliament approves or supports the CEDAW case that would mean our land tenure system would be very much affected. And that is why all the nobles and government and cabinet ministers voted against that."

Akilisi Pohiva says political reform is likely next year in Tonga and once there are more women in Parliament the decision may well be reviewed.