Tongan Family Protection Bill Passes Final Reading

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New law would allow instant protection orders from police

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 4, 2013) – The director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre in Tonga says a new law which aims to end domestic violence is a step in the right direction in protecting victims.

The Family Protection Bill, which was introduced two years ago, passed its third and final reading.

Ofa Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the new law allows on the spot protection orders issued by police, which last for seven days.

She says before this law, victims would have to wait up to 72 hours for a protection order.

She says counselors will be appointed to assist the courts and victims, and a committee will be formed to monitor how the law is working.

"The biggest and most critical stage is perhaps the implementation stage where we will have to closely monitor and evaluate the use and access of this bill and the impact it will have on situations and cases that counselors will deal with, what police will deal with, what hospital staff will deal with. It’s a very core and vital part of this bill."

Ms. Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the law, which still needs the King’s assent, is likely to be enacted next year.

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