Tavake Barron Afeaki

New Zealand-born Tongan lawyer Tavake Barron Afeaki has been appointed as the Privy Council’s new Lord Chancellor.

Afeaki has replaced former Lord Chancellor New Zealand lawyer Harry Waakens QC, the Lord Privy Seal has reportedly confirmed to local media last week.

The Lord Chancellor’s office will advise King Tupou 6th over judicial and other appointments.

Last year the former government had tried to push a raft of controversial six bills through parliament.

The bills included one which proposed to remove the king’s power to select judicial appointments and gave it to the government before recommending the king to appoint them.

The late King George V has reportedly said the role of the Lord Chancellor is to preserve the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, but it’s also been strongly criticised, with a legal adviser saying the role of the Lord Chancellor was one of the changes made under the 2010 Constitution which have been called into question.

A report by Peter Pursglove, a legal consultant in Constitutional Law from Trinidad and Tobago said the changes mean judicial system now lacks openness, transparency and accountability.

“While the Ministry of Justice remains accountable to the people through Parliament the Office of the Lord Chancellor and the Office of the Attorney General are not publicly accountable and answer only to the King in Privy Council. This is contrary to the democratic principles upon which the new Constitution was founded.”

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