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Executive Summary

The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. The Legislative Assembly, a parliamentary body consisting of 17 popularly elected members and nine nobles selected by their peers, elects the prime minister. Following the November election, which international observers characterized as generally free and fair, then prime minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa removed himself from consideration for continuing in the position, and Siaosi Sovaleni was selected as new prime minister. While the prime minister and his cabinet are responsible for most government functions, King Tupou VI, the nobility, and their representatives retain significant authority.

The Tonga Police Force maintains internal security and reports to the Ministry of Police and Fire Services. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Members of the security forces committed few abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: serious government corruption; and the existence of law criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although it is not enforced.

There were no reports that government officials committed egregious human rights abuses. There were reports of government corruption. Impunity for human rights abuses was not a problem. There was some impunity for corruption. The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed human rights abuses or corruption.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future