Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Universal Periodic Review of the Kingdom of Tonga – 15th Session
Statement by Australia
21 January 2013

Australia highly commends Tonga’s constitutional and political reforms which, since the November 2010 elections, have meant that the majority of parliamentary seats are held by directly-elected Peoples’ Representatives.

Tonga is on track to meet gender equality in terms of access to education, but more needs to be done to fully achieve Millennium Development Goal Three – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. Australia commends Tonga’s efforts to promote gender equality through schools, the national marking of International Women’s Day and White Ribbon Day and the Tonga Police ‘no-drop policy’ for domestic violence cases. We also commend Tonga for progressing work on a Family Protection Bill. Nevertheless, rates of domestic violence still remain high. We thank the Minister for explaining the specific challenges that Tonga faces with respect to ratification of international instruments, and look forward to continuing to work with Tonga to help acheive ratification of the key international human rights treaties. In this context, we commend Tonga for progressing work on a Family Protection Bill. Nevertheless, rates of domestic violence still remain high. We recommend that Tonga ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

We also recommend that Tonga prioritise legislation and domestic policies aimed at eliminating domestic violence and protecting women’s rights and gender equality, particularly in relation to property, family and employment.

Australia notes the death penalty remains applicable for murder and treason in Tonga. However, Australia welcomes the fact that Tonga is abolitionist in practice and has not carried out an execution for thirty years. Australia recommends that Tonga abolish the death penalty and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Second Optional Protocol.