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Friday, September 17, 2021
Nuku’Alofa, Tonga, Aug 26 2021 - Fourteen Pacific Island Countries have enacted specific legislation to address domestic violence. While these laws have been developed to respond to domestic violence, implementation continues to be a challenge. It is affected by various factors that include practical social, cultural, religious, political, environmental and economic challenges.
The 2nd Regional Working Group on Family Protection and Domestic Violence (RWG) meeting will be held on 23-26 August, 2021. The meeting will focus on Pacific Island countries sharing experiences, reflecting on good practices, challenges, and learnings to date on the implementation of Domestic Violence (DV) legislation, particularly in the key priority areas (advisory committees, counselling and data collection) within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic environment and natural disasters.
This feature focuses on the Kingdom of Tonga, reflecting on their journey and their experiences in the implementation of the DV legislation. We spoke to Polotu Fakafanua-Paunga, Deputy CEO, Women Affairs Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs.
1. Where are you at in terms of the implementation of DV legislation in the Kingdom of Tonga? Please include any specific activities and timelines that was carried out to help in the implementation of DV legislation.
In 2016, we established the FPAC Counselling sub-committee. In 2018 the Family Protection Act Trust Fund for Gender Based Violence service providers was implemented. The Tonga Family Protection Legal Aid Center was established following that and work began on consolidating Domestic Violence administrative data from frontline agencies. The year 2019 saw momentous developments with the development of the Tonga Family Protection Counselling Framework and the establishment of the Tonga Police Domestic Violence Unit.
In addition, these four sub-committees was established: Family Protection Advisory Council (FPAC) Referral sub-committee, FPAC Data sub-committee and FPAC Faith Based Organization & GBV sub-committee. The Tonga National Service Delivery Protocol began its development and 2019 also saw the completion of the 5-year review of the Tonga Family Protection Act, 2013 and the Inclusion of Domestic Violence module at Tonga MICS survey2013.
Last year, Tonga’s first Family Protection Act (FPA) Panel of Counsellors was registered. This year, we have thus far launched Tonga’s National Service Delivery Protocol, progressed the national validation of the Tonga SDP and consequently rolled out the Training of Trainers of Service Delivery Protocol.
2. Has there been any significant progress with the implementation process of the DV legislation in Tonga?
3. What are some challenges faced with the implementation process of the DV legislation in Tonga?
Legal and social services are not recognized as essential services and thus hinder access of survivors to assistance and response from service providers during emergencies such as the COVID 19 pandemic or natural disasters). v)There is also the lack of perpetrators’ rehabilitation programs.
4. What are some gaps in the implementation process of DV legislation in Tonga that you feel needs to be addressed at the RWG meeting?
5. Provide any other additional information that you wish to add or be relevant to Tonga on DV legislation implementation.
In 2018, the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) of the Pacific Community (SPC) – now formally called the Human Rights and Social Development Division – convened a “Regional Consultation on the Implementation of Domestic Violence Legislation: from Law to Practice”. The regional consultation brought together senior government officials from the Government Ministries / Departments responsible for the implementation of their country’s domestic violence legislation and provided a platform for reflections on progress against implementation of the domestic violence legislation in the region.
A key outcome from the consultation was the establishment of the Regional Working Group on Family Protection and Domestic Violence (RWG). The first meeting of the RWG was held in May 2019 with representation from Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia (Kosrae & Pohnpei), Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga. The RWG agreed to two annual meetings (one face-to-face and another virtually). These meetings would provide a space for the RWG to update on the implementation of their legislation, highlight key areas of need from regional organisations that support countries on responding to domestic violence, and recommend important work needing technical and/or financial support.
The Human Rights and Social Development Division (formerly RRRT) is the Secretariat of the Regional Working Group and works closely with the Chair and Deputy Chair to develop the program for the meetings, coordinate financial support and coordination of the meetings. The next annual meeting is scheduled for August 2021.
Source: The Pacific Community (SPC)
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