Tonga drug enforcement officers complain after three years of overdue unpaid overtime wages: report

    Officers working at police drug enforcement taskforce have complained after allegedly not being paid for overtime works they should have received in 2018.

    Acting Police Commissioner Lord Fielakepa. Photo/Twitter

    The complainants claimed the Ministry of Police’s (MOP) pay practices were surrounded by unfair treatment and favouritism.

    The four months unpaid extra hours have been described as a result of a huge amount of works in which at one stage a shuttle bus was hired to transport people who were arrested and charged with drugs offences.

    Recent Vava’u operation 

    The police officers also claimed their pay for the recent Vava’u illicit drug operation was cut while the senior officers who joined them were allegedly paid in full.

    The concerned police officers also claimed they were told they would receive their pay in question before this Christmas, but it did not happen.

    The case was allegedly referred to the Ombudsman and a recommendation was made for the MOP to pay the officers, but that decision did not happen either, according to a report by the Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper this week.

    The paper claimed the Acting Police Commissioner Lord Fielakepa agreed with the Ombudsman to pay the officers’ overdue wages.

    The paper said it contacted the Ministry of Finance (MOF) about the unpaid wages and it was told the MOF wanted more information from the MOP as the unpaid wages had been long overdue.

    Kaniva News contacted the MOP for comment.

    The news came after it had been alleged “that corrupt public officials have worked with criminals to import and distribute illicit drugs” in the kingdom.

    The revelation during a national symposium on illicit drugs in October said that “this corruptive influence has seemingly infiltrated all levels of society, including police, such that law enforcement authorities require people with exceptionally strong ethics, integrity, and courage to tackle this problem”.

    King Tupou VI addressed the national symposium after he previously criticised Parliament over what he sees as a lack of effort in combatting the drug threat.

    The Kakalu newspaper’s article asked whether the king knew about this drug enforcement officers’ long overdue unpaid overtime wages, implying that this could be a factor which contributed to what the nation faced in its war on illicit drugs.

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