The Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) In-county Focal Officer for Tonga, Lepolo Taunisila, has been tasked to coordinate the process of drafting the implementation plan for Tonga’s Family Protection Act (2013) together with other members of a newly established implementation taskforce for the act.

‘I am humbled by the Solicitor General’s decision to entrust me with this very important responsibility,’ she said.

‘The passing of the act in 2013 is a great achievement for the people of Tonga, but this is not the end, implementing the act to make a difference in people’s lives is equally or more important for a safer Tonga. And therefore we aim to draft an effective implementation plan that will assist us implement the act in Tonga,’ Ms Taunisila said.

The Lord Minister of Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea, approved the establishment of the Implementation Taskforce for the Family Protection Act (2013) this month and approved its terms of reference, membership and outputs.

‘The formation of the Implementation Taskforce is the final step we needed to take in preparing government ministries and civil society organisations for the coming into force of the Family Protection Act on 1 July 2014, which is designed to protect all the members of the family from Domestic Violence,’ CEO of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Lopeti Senituli, said.

In addition to Ms Taunsila, who is based in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the members of the taskforce include the Solicitor General, Deputy CEO of the Women’s Affairs Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, representatives from Ministry of Police, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Tonga National Centre for Women and Children, Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ma’a Fafine moe Famili and the Secretary of the National Forum of Church Leaders. It is chaired by the CEO of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The taskforce officially began its work from 6 January and will continue until 31 July 2014. One of the major outputs is a range of training programmes to be provided for police officers and prosecutors, court and judicial officers, health practitioners and counsellors, teachers, and social service providers, on their specific roles as spelled out in the Family Protection Act. The taskforce will submit progress reports every two months to the Minister for Internal Affairs.

The work of the taskforce will be funded by the respective stakeholders who are members of the taskforce, but financial and technical assistance is being sought from development partners for the specialised training programmes.

The CEO for the Ministry of Internal Affairs said, ‘We are indebted to the Solicitor General and his staff for their leadership and support in having the Family Protection Act approved by the Legislative Assembly in 2013, and now for the preparation of the implementation plan for the FPA.’

Source: Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Media release, 22 January 2014