PM says government spent reasonable time and millions on campaigning for CEDAW

Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said the government had spent millions of paʻanga on campaigning and consulting the community in Tonga about the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Prime Minister was responding to a statement by Cardinal Mafi of the Catholic Church who said he wanted the government to give more time for the public and churches to discuss whether Tonga should sign CEDAW or not.

Pohiva said he respected Cardinal Mafi’s point of view and said the cardinal was doing his job as a religious leader.

However, the government had already made it clear that Tonga had reservations about CEDAW’s position on the right to abortion, same sex marriage and the status of Tonga’s Land Act regarding the succession to the throne and nobility.

Hon. Pohiva said the government funded non-profit organisations in Tonga such as the Women and Children Crisis Centre Tonga, The Tongan family support organisation Ma’aFafine and Tonga’s Civil Society Forum and had asked them to consult with the public about CEDAW.

He said the campaign and consultations had lasted several years, which was enough time for the Tongan public to understand the CEDAW convention.

The Prime Minister’s Private Secretary, Poʻoi Pohiva, said the leaders of these non-profitable organisations were members of the local Catholic and Free Wesleyan churches.

The Prime Minister said previous governments had spent millions on the information and consultation campaign.

Cardinal Mafi said he feared the government’s move to sign CEDAW would open the door for Tonga to accept same sex marriage and abortion in the future.

The Prime Minister recently told Kaniva News in Auckland that Tonga could not stay by herself when most countries had adopted conventions like CEDAW.

The Tongan government has agreed to sign CEDAW convention and is now processing it through the United Nations.

The main points

  • Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akihisi Pohiva said last night the government had spent millions of pa’anga on consulting the community in Tonga about the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.
  • Pohiva was responding to a statement by Cardinal Mafi, who said he wanted the government to give more time for the public and churches to discuss the issue.
  • He said the government had made it clear it had reservations about CEDAW’s position on the right to abortion, same sex marriage and the status of Tonga’s Land Act regarding the succession to the throne and nobility.
  • The campaign and consultations had lasted several years, which was enough time for the Tongan public to understand the CEDAW convention.

For more information

UN agencies welcome Tonga’s decision to ratify CEDAW

Women’s advocate: Tonga’s CEDAW ratification a disaster (RNZI)

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