4 Feb 2013

UN pushes Tonga over slow rights implementation

7:14 am on 4 February 2013

The United Nations human rights agency says Tonga still has to answer questions over basic freedoms, especially for women.

A spokesman for the Pacific Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says Tonga is the first Pacific country to be examined for a second time after questions remain from a review four years ago.

The review recommendations include abolishing the death penalty, educating the police force further about human rights, passing a bill on violence against women and improving gender equality.

Mika Kanervavuor says his office welcomes Tonga's engagement with the process and some progress has been made but more needs to be done.

"To enhance efforts to combat violence against women and other specific legislation on domestic violence. Prioritise gender equality initiatives particularly in relation to property, family and employment. To intensify efforts to increase women's participation at formal decision making levels. And also to consider the establishment of a national human rights institution."

Mr Kanervavuor says it is up to the Tongan government and people to decide which issues are most urgent and his agency is available to provide technical support to improve human rights before a third review due in another four years.