Tonga Government Allegedly Ignored Reports Of Police Violence

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‘Inhumane’ treatment by police reported during 2006 riots

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 28, 2012) – Civil society groups in Tonga say a report on police violence given to the government more than five years ago was ignored.

The claim has surfaced a day after two policemen were charged with assaulting visiting New Zealander Kali Fungavaka while he was in custody.

Mr. Fungavaka, who was a constable, died in hospital last week, and a prisoner has been charged with his murder.

Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, director of the Tonga Women and Children's Crisis Centre, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that activists in Tonga have been trying to raise the issue of police violence for some time.

She said that in the aftermath of riots that rocked the capital Nuku'alofa in 2006 several people reported "graphic and inhumane" treatment of suspects by the police, and their testimonies were included in a report given to the government.

"It was ignored," Ms. Guttenbeil-Likiliki said.

"The prime minister himself said a lot of the allegations used by the report were not true, was incorrect. Basically they were just trying to cover up and say that most of the stories of the victims or the detainees were not true."

Grant O'Fee, Tonga's police commissioner told Pacific Beat he was aware of the public's concerns and hoped Mr. Fungavaka's death would act as a lesson to any officers who were "handy when they shouldn't be".

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