Constitutional change

Tongan MPs called on to explain controversial constitutional move

Clause 89A of the constitution, which requires judges to consider custom and tradition in their rulings, was passed without going to public consultation.

The move has been strongly criticised by the Tonga Law Society.

And the director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, has grave concerns about how it might impact on their work to stop sexual and domestic violence.

Tonga Law Society says constitutional change out of order

The legislature unanimously passed Clause 89 to the Constitution, which will require judges to consider Tongan traditions, custom and culture when making their court decisions.

The acting Justice Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, said the matter was not put to the public because no law was actually being changed.

But the President of the Law Society, Sione Fonua, said it should have been vetted by the public, because the issue was very complex.

Governor's power of veto could be changed in American Samoa

Senators Tuaoloa Fruean and Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua sponsored a legislative veto override measure, which had been voted down in previous elections.

If approved, a bill that is vetoed by the governor will still be able to pass if it is supported by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate.

Currently, if a governor vetoes a bill it is sent back to the Fono to be repassed by each chamber before going back to the governor, who can send it to the United States' interior secretary for a final decision.

The secretary can either approve or kill it.