The Clerk of the House of Parliament Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu has been charged with assaulting his wife. Latu is also a prominent candidate for the Friendly Islands Democracy Party in Tonga’s historic democratic elections scheduled for November 25. Many candidates involved in the Democracy Party are members of the Human Rights and Democracy Movement.
The Director of the Tonga Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC), ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki says that “it’s a disgrace to see a movement that prides itself in promoting human rights failing to undertake a thorough human rights check-list on its list of supported candidates – it’s a complete and utter humiliation on the face of human rights.”
The Tonga Ministry of Police (MOP) has a No Drop Policy for all cases of assault – which means that once a charge has been reported, it cannot be removed. The MOP Policy is an indication of the no tolerance policy they have towards domestic violence and sexual assault.
Violence Against Women (VAW) and girls is a widespread and systematic violation of fundamental human rights violations and an enduring form of gender based discrimination.
The WCCC calls for the immediate removal of this candidate from the list based on the fact that Tonga has made several commitments to the elimination of violence against women nationally, regionally and internationally.
In its report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva in 2008, Tonga proudly reported its progress in eliminating VAW in Tonga, where as part of its final recommendations Tonga supported and acknowledged the recommendation to continue pursuing its efforts to curb violence against women.
“We have for example seen major progress with the Tonga Police who are currently drafting their Domestic Violence Policy and who continue to promote zero tolerance to violence against women and children. Then there is the work of NGOs such as the WCCC whose day-today commitment is to eliminating Violence Against Women in the provision of direct
and immediate support services to victims and survivors of violence.
If the Friendly Islands Democracy Party, which claims to be grounded in the principles of human rights, want people to respect one of the very core principles of human rights which is stipulated under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to a life of liberty and security of person – then they must themselves show it” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
Notably the 17 candidates recently announced by the Friendly Islands Democracy Party were all male. “At the core of achiving an effective democracy is achieving gender responsive representation for Tonga – which means we need an equal number of male and female canididates. To have 17 candidates, and not one of them as women, goes against the very principle of human rights and against the very principle of democracy.
The Human Rights Democracy Movement better think quick about their choices – the status quo is not acceptable. We need our parliamentarians to be of good character, and we need women to be equally represented in Parliament. And in the worst case scenario – such as this one, where there is not even one female candidate – The Friendly Islands democracy Party is obliged to make it clear how the needs of women will be incorporated. It is not acceptable to ignore the needs and rights of Tongan women ” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
“There is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for violence against women and the WCCC does not condone any candidate who has and is still physically, emotionally or sexually abusing his wife or any other women and will make this our priority in raising alerts during this political campaign – and we make no apology for it!”