U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Tonga
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Tonga, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1854.html [accessed 25 October 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
TONGAThe Kingdom of Tonga comprises 169 small islands scattered over a wide area of the South Pacific. Most of the approximately 105,000 inhabitants are Polynesian. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy in which political life is dominated by the King, the nobility, and a few prominent commoners. It is fully independent and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The judiciary is independent. The security apparatus is composed of the Tonga Defense Services (TDS) and a police force. The 430-man TDS force is responsible to and controlled by the Minister of Defense. The economy is based primarily on the cultivation of tropical and semitropical crops. An increasing demand for imported manufactured goods and products unavailable locally has led to a substantial trade deficit. This has been offset largely by remittances from Tongans employed abroad, overseas aid, and to a lesser degree tourism. Remittances continued to diminish. The principal human rights abuse remains severe restrictions on the right of citizens to change their government. A relatively small group of commoners vocally challenges the Constitution, arguing for a more representative and accountable government. Some women suffer from domestic violence, and discrimination within traditional society limits the opportunities available to women.