Tonga parliament postponed due to lack of quorum

Tonga’s parliament defers its session this afternoon after the minimum number of members of the assembly that must be present for a meeting to proceed was not met.

Tonga Parliament. Photo/Fale Alea ‘o Tonga (Facebook)

It was first announced that the House deferred for 15 minutes but it was updated a short time later to say the sitting was postponed until Monday morning at 10am.

It came after the House resumed sitting on August 1 since it passed the 2022/2023 National Budget in June.

It is understood the agenda included deliberating on Government Public Bills.

Yesterday the legislators supported by a majority vote, a proposed amendment to section 119 of the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2022.

If it would become law, “the presiding Judge or magistrate may or if application made by complainant or the Prosecutor – now can make an order against media’s publication or broadcast of complainant or vulnerable witness identity on Criminal Offences Act or any offence of a sexual nature in other Acts”.

“Section 119 of the Principal Act is amended by deleting subsection one and replaced with the presiding Judge or Magistrate may, or if application made by complainant or the Prosecutor, order and direct that the identity of the complainant or any vulnerable witness, and their evidence taken in the proceedings; or information that discloses or could reasonably lead to the disclosure of their identity (the complainant or any vulnerable witness). Therefore, the new amendments in section 119 provide that victims’ identity WILL NOT be made publicly in a written publication available to the public or broadcast.

“The current section 119 of the existing legislation (Criminal Offences Act) is restricted to offending under section 118 which applicable to rape cases only.

“The Justice Minister Hon. Samiu Vaipulu asserted in Parliament, the Bill is to refrain media from publishing any news information which could reveal the identity of victims and eventually tarnish their reputation.

The proposed amendment aims to extend the restriction of publication of identification particulars or evidence of any complainant or vulnerable witness for any offence of a sexual nature under the Criminal Offence Act or other Act such as under the Family Protection Act”.

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