10 Jan 2012

Tonga king blocks arms amendment act

2:11 pm on 10 January 2012

Tonga's King has blocked a move by Parliament to reduce penalties for possession of firearms offences.

Matangi Tonga reports that King George Tupou V notified parliament that he had withheld his Royal Assent to the Arms and Ammunitions Amendment Act 2011 because he considered it to be against the welfare, well-being and safety of his subjects.

In October last year, Parliament voted to bypass public consultation on the amendment bill, before passing it, to reduce the penalty for the illegal possession of firearms from almost 3,000 US dollars to just over 500 dollars, and the imprisonment from five years to one year.

The move comes at a time when some members of Parliament, including the Speaker, are facing charges in the courts under the act.

After bypassing public consultation, the bill was passed with votes of 10-8.