The protocol will be used to respond to cases of gender-based violence, as stakeholders from the government and civil society organisations validate the kingdom’s first ever-national protocol that coordinates multisectoral responses to gender-based violence.
Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Chief Executive Officer, Dr Fotu Fisi’iahi said they are working on improving their services.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs recognised the need to improve and strengthen the delivery of services by Government and NGO service providers for domestic violence victims and survivors in light of the increasing rates of violence across the country. Thus, the development of the Protocol [started] with the primary purpose to define and establish minimum standards and coordination pathways for interagency responses to gender-based violence.”
Dr Fotu is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Family Protection Act 2013 and is the Chair of the Family Protection Advisory Council.
The Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division provides the Secretariat.
The development of the protocol is led by MIA with funding from the Families Free of Violence programme, and technical support from UN Women through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) programme. The Pacific Partnership is funded primarily by the European Union, and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and UN Women, and is led by the Pacific Community (SPC), UN Women and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The Protocol articulates Tonga’s efforts to build a system that is aligned to an agreed set of procedures and minimum standards to ensure a survivor-centred approach, continuity of care across the preparedness-emergency-recovery continuum and more positive outcomes for survivors, their families, and the communities of Tonga.
The development process included numerous consultations and validation workshops with Government and CSOs across Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u, including a review of previous MIA work in Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou on gender-based violence, as well as national policies, legislation and reports on gender-based violence in Tonga.