Petition complaints nothing new say police, as Commissioner works on cyclone recovery

    Neongo 'a e ngaahi tukuaki'i kehekehe mei ha ni'ihi 'o ha kau polisi kuo tuku ki tu'a mei he polisi 'a ia kuo nau ui ki he komisiona polisi 'a Tonga ke ne fakafisi leva, ka kuo fakahā 'e Komisiona Steve Caldwell ia ki he Kaniva 'oku 'ikai ha me'a fo'ou ia 'i he tohi tangi ko 'eni. Ko e tangi 'eni 'a e kau polisi ne 'ave ki he Minisitā Polisi pea kuo pehē 'e he Minisitaa Māteni Tapueluelu 'oku totonu ke fai 'e he Komisiona ha me'a ki ai he 'oku 'i ai pe 'ene tui 'oku mo'oni e ni'ihi ko eni 'oku tangi mai. 'Oku tukuaki'i 'a e komisiona ki he tuli e ni'ihi kae fakatukutuku'i pe ni'ihi ne fehalaaki 'i he loto'i potungaue, tukuaki'i ki he founga ki hono faka'auha 'o e faito'o konatapu mo ha me'atau ta'efakalao mo e ngaahi tukuaki'i kehekehe pe. Pehē 'e he Komisiona ki he Kaniva 'aneafi ko kinautolu kuo tuku ki tu'a na'e fai 'i he makatu'unga lelei pea kuo 'osi fakahoko 'a hono veteki fakalao 'enau ngaahi keisi.

    Complaints raised about Commissioner Steve Caldwell in a petition circulated by a group of suspended policemen were not new, Tongan police said yesterday afternoon.

    A spokesperson for the Commissioner said  the issues raised had  been re-litigated on previous occasions.

    “The suspensions and continuation of suspensions are for very good reasons,” the spokesperson said.

    “The Commissioner is confined by what he can say publicly on individual criminal and disciplinary cases currently under investigation,” the spokesperson said.

    “The Commissioner does not have time to make fuller comment at this time, as he is helping to lead the disaster operation for Tropical Cyclone Gita.

    “All police officers not under suspension have been working hard and tirelessly since before, during and after the cyclone for their King, country and community.”

    On Friday Kaniva News asked Commissioner Caldwell to clarify what response he had made to the petition; his specific response to the calls for his resignation and his response to a statement by the Police Minister that appeared to at last partly support the petitioners.

    The petitioners have raised  questions regarding a number of officers whose cases are matters of public record.

    They claimed their own suspensions were being treated differently and that there were solid grounds for reconsidering their cases.

    They also made a number of allegations concerning guns and drugs.

    The Police Minister has issued a statement that appeared to at last partly support the petitioners.

    The Minister has also been reported as saying that if the Commissioner does nothing then corruption could cause chaos in the police force.

    In July 2017 the head of the Tonga Police’s professional standards unit said the tide was turning in the face of police misconduct.

    Chief Inspector Meleane Taueli said at the time that in the previous five years, 12 officers have been sacked for misconduct and five convicted of criminal offences.

    Tonga’s police force has a troubled history of corruption and abuse.

    It also has a history of New Zealand police officers working in Tonga being faced with entrenched opposition from police opposed to attempts to clean up the force.

    In 2016 Kaniva News reported Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva as saying Police  Commissioner Caldwell was striving to do his job honestly, but warned that his efforts could be undermined by the actions of some Tongan Police officers.

    Former Tongan Police Commissioner Grant O’Fee described the job of reforming the Tongan police as “difficult.”

    “There are … some more senior officers who are fairly rooted in the old ways. There’s a lot of corruption.”

    The main points

    • Complaints raised about Commissioner Steve Caldwell in a petition circulated by a group of suspended policemen were not new, Tongan police said this afternoon.
    • A spokesperson for the Commissioner said the issues raised had been re-litigated on previous occasions.
    • “The Commissioner does not have time to make fuller comment at this time, as he is helping to lead the Disaster Operation for Tropical Cyclone Gita,” the spokesperson said.

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