King leaves Tonga as decision on Police Commissioner’s contract deferred, says Minister

    Fakatatali ha tu'utu'uni a e Tu'i pe 'e tali e fokotu'u mei he'ene penolo fale'i ke fakaloloa e konituleki 'a e komisiona polisi pe 'ikai. Kuo tuku atu ha 'aho 'e fitu ke 'omai ai ha tali 'a e komisiona ki he ngaahi 'uhinga kuo fakahu atu 'e he minisita polisi mo e kapineti ke 'oua na'a toe hoko atu 'a Steve Caldwell he lakanga. 'Oku tui e minisita polisi 'oku 'ikai ko ha taha totonu 'eni ke pule he polisi 'a Tonga. 'Oku tuli e kau polisi 'e ni'ihi kuo 'osi fai hono faka'ilo kae kei fakatukutuku'i pe 'i loto ha ni'ihi 'o e kau polisi ma'olunga ne nau fai hia mo kinautolu. Ka ne osi fakaha e Caldwell ko e tuli 'o e kau polisi ne fai pe 'i he 'uhinga lelei. Taimi tatau kuo folau e tama tu'i ia ki 'Aositelelia he 'aho Pulelulu.

    A royal decision on whether King Tupou VI would approve his Appointment Panel’s  recommendation to extend the Police Commissioner’s contract had been deferred.

    The decision was expected to be made this week.

    This meant the Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell’s request to extend his contract has not yet been approved.

    The king has left for Australia on Wednesday.

    The Minister of Police, Mateni Tapueluelu, said the Privy Council has given Mr. Caldwell seven days to respond to Cabinet’s recommendation not to extend his contract.

    Hon. Tapueluelu said New Zealand, which is paying for the majority of Mr Caldwell’s salary, has told the Privy Council’s Judicial and Appointment Panel its contribution to the Commissioner’s pay would depend on Tonga’s Cabinet.

    The Minister said in Tongan: “Ne fakaha ‘e NZ ki he Judicial Panel te nau tali pee ‘a e ‘omai e vahe ‘a e Komisiona Polisi kapau ‘e kole pe request ‘e he Kapineti. And we are not.”

    This translates into English as: “New Zealand told the Judicial Panel they would only pay for the Police Commissioner if the Cabinet made a request. And we are not.”

    Judicial review

    Hon. Tapueluelu told Kaniva News if the Judicial Appointment Panel forced Cabinet to pay Mr. Caldwell, Cabinet might file for a judicial review of the decision.

    “We are firm on this,” he said.

    Hon. Tapueluelu said the constitution gave the king power to appoint the Police Commissioner after he received advice from his Judicial Appointment Panel. He has the power to determine his term of appointment and also he has the power to dismiss them.

    The Cabinet has the power to pay the Commissioner through its Remuneration Authority, he said.

    He said budget had been prepared by the government and submitted to Parliament to be passed.

    Contract

    Mr. Caldwell was appointed Tonga’s Police commissioner in 2015 on a three-year contract which will end next month.

    However,  he is entitled to another one year extension of his contract.

    Hon. Tapueluelu said he wanted Mr. Caldwell to go after his first three terms ended as his treatment of suspended officers were not fair and square.

    A spokesperson for Mr. Caldwell told Kaniva News the suspension of police officers “were for good reasons.”

    She said the commissioner was restricted by his contract on what he could speak to the public.

    As Kaniva News reported, Hon. Tapueluelu threatened to stop Mr. Caldwell’s pay if the Privy Council approved his request to extend his contract.

    As we reported earlier, the Privy Council’s Judicial Appointment and Discipline Panel had asked the government to ask New Zealand for more money to pay for the Police Commissioner.

    Hon. Tapueluelu said the government told New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her delegation during a bilateral meeting in Tonga that it did not want the Police Commissioner’s contract extended.

    For more information

    Law firm claims charges against police not based on “clear and fair grounds”

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