Tongan overseas deportees discussed in Auckland; NZ and Aust approached for rehab facility

    Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has told his New Zealand counterpart John Key that he is concerned about high risk deportees being sent back to the kingdom.

    Hon. Pohiva said the Tongan government was not told about the crimes they had committed overseas.

    The Tongan Prime Minister told a Tongan audience in Mangere this evening this put Tongan society at risk.

    After the deportees arrived in Tonga they were released into the community and there was nothing the government could do to make sure they would do no more harm to the society.

    Hon. Pohiva said it was important for the government to be informed so they could alert people if any criminal deportees moved into the community.

    Chief Secretary Dr Palenitina Langa’oi, who accompanied Hon. Pohiva to the meeting, told the audience New Zealand had agreed it would send  profiles and background reports of deportees to the Tongan authority.

    Dr Langa’oi said they had agreed that the files of the deportees must be sent as soon as New Zealand could possibly can.

     Rehabilitation facility

    Tonga’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Vaʻinga Tōnē who was also in the meeting, told the audience there had been discussion with the governments of New Zealand and Australia to help fund a rehabilitation facility in Tonga.

    He said this was a big issue for Tonga, especially for deportees who were sent directly from prison to Tonga and did not usually join any rehabilitation programmes after their release.

    In November last year it was reported that Patrick ʻUnga, who had received a life sentence for murdering his fiancé in New Zealand in 2003, killed again in Tonga only a few months after his deportation to Tonga.

    He was sentenced to more than 12 years in jail for manslaughter after the death of Sitanilei Sime in Nuku’alofa in April 2014.

    The main points

    • Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has told his New Zealand counterpart John Key that he is concerned about high risk deportees being sent back to the kingdom.
    • Pohiva said the Tongan government was not told about the crimes they had committed overseas.
    • The Tongan Prime Minister told a Tongan audience in Mangere this evening this put Tongan society at risk.
    • After the deportees arrived in Tonga they were released into the community and there was nothing the government could do to make sure they would do no more harm to the society.

    For more information

    Tongan noble concerns over number of criminal deportees

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