Talks over CEDAW ratification postponed

The Tongan government has shelved plan to return to the negotiation table with church leaders to discuss its move to ratify the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Tonga’s Internal Affairs minister, Hon. Fe’ao Vakata told Kaniva News on Saturday the government wanted to concentrate on its activities and preparation for the king’s coronation before any further discussions on the convention.

The last meeting between the church leaders and the government was held on May 27 at the Free Wesleyan Church’s Dr. Moulton Meeting Hall. It was attended by religious leaders such as Cardinal Mafi and other church leaders as well as the Prime Minister, Akilisi Pohiva.

The church leaders made it clear to government they still did not support its move to ratify CEDAW.  They feared the convention would open the door to legalise same sex marriage and abortion.

Hon. Pohiva told the meeting Tonga should join with more than 180 countries of the world who had signed the convention to fight against discrimination against women.

President Liufau Saulala and Cardinal Mafi were reported as telling the government Tonga would be unique and it’s a blessing for the nation if it remained the only state in the world not to sign CEDAW.

Tonga’s Attorney General Aminiasi Kefu told the meeting the government has made several reservations on CEDAW to make sure it would not make laws in the future to legalise same sex marriage and abortion.

He said the United Nations could not interfere with Tonga’s law and constitution. Abortion and same sex marriage are not allowed by Tonga’s laws.

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