Torture in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Tonga]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                                  

Kingdom of Tonga

Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports.

Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. High unemployment among the young, a continuing upturn in inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Tonga

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Tonga.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 14 February 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, in December an employee of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) issued a report alleging abuse by the Tonga Defense Services (TDS) and police of some of the persons arrested following rioting in Nuku'alofa on November 16 (see section 2.b.). The NGO's board later disavowed the report, citing differences with the author's methodology and conclusions and his failure to clear the report prior to release. The Tonga Evangelical Union also wrote a letter to the prime minister expressing concern over reports of abuses, including violence towards underage detainees. The government stated it would investigate the charges. There were also reports of gratuitous violence used during more routine arrests, detentions, and other encounters with the TDS and police.

The Systematic Torture and Abuse of Prisoners by The Government of Tonga Following Civil Unrest in November 2006 [PDF]

The National Centre for Women and Children, Kingdom of Tonga, November 2006

[accessed 11 Feb 2014]


A. ARRESTS - Prisoners reported that the vast majority of injuries that occurred to them and that they had observed on other prisoners occurred during arrest and while in transit to the Nuku’alofa Police Station. These injuries included facial cuts, swelling and bruising; ripped ears; broken and missing teeth; split lips and heavily bruised ribs.

“I saw bloody people come into the cells everyday. People with smashed faces – it just became normal.”

Tonga Defence Service personnel were reported as the main perpetrators of violence against prisoners. The predominant weapon of choice was reported as rifle butts.

A prisoner described how he was sitting in the back seat of a taxi at a checkpoint. His friend in the front passenger seat was talking to a soldier. The prisoner said he made some popping noises with his mouth, imitate

ng a gun through his open window. Without warning another soldier drove the butt of his rifle multiple times into the side of the prisoners head.

Another prisoner described how upon his arrest, he was being transported to the Nuku’alofa Police Station in a TDS vehicle. There were so ldiers and police sitting on both sides of him. A TDS Officer removed his pistol from his holster and hit the prisoner with the flat side of the pistol twice on his head (Refer to Figure 1). The TDS Officer then loaded and cocked his pistol and pointed it at the prisoner, threatening to kill him and saying he “deserved to die”. Police and TDS Officers in the vehicle then described how easy it would be for them to “get rid of” the prisoner without anyone knowing. The prisoner reported that he was bleeding profusely from the strikes to his head and his face, shirt and shorts were covered in blood. The prisoner was made to hide his head below the window level of the vehicle as it drove through town.

Another prisoner described how he did not remember anything about his arrest but regained consciousness on the floor of the prison cell covered in blood from a cut and swelling to his left temple and tear to his left ear (Refer to figures 2 and 3). Other prisoners interviewed described that this prisoner was placed in their cells with serious swelling and bruising to his head and temple area where they noticed that his skin had been scraped away by what they believed was a rifle butt.

One prisoner who was in custody for over 7 days reported that 3 out of 4 prisoners who came into his cell upon arrest during this period had serious head injuries which he said could only be caused by an implement such as a rifle, “fists can not do damage like that.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 14 February 2013]

The judiciary is generally independent and efficient, and traditional village elders frequently adjudicate local disputes. Criminal suspects may exercise the right to an attorney and a court hearing. There are no reports of prisoner abuse.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Tonga",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Tonga]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Tonga]  [other countries]