Minister of Police threatens to stop Commissioner Caldwell’s pay today

Me'a e Minsitā Polisi 'o pehē te ne ta'ofi 'e ia 'a e vahe 'a e komisiona polisi 'o kapau 'e tali 'e he Fakataha Tokoni mo e tu'i he 'aho ni (Mōnite ko hono 26 'o Mā'asi) 'a e fokotu'u atu mei he pēnolo 'a e Fakataha Tokoni kuo nau tali ke fakalōloa e konituleki ngāue 'a Steve Caldwell. Ko e konga lahi taha 'o e vahe 'a Caldwell 'oku totongi ia mei Nu'u SIla pea ki'i konga si'i pe 'i Tonga. 'E ala hoko e nga'unu ko 'eni 'a e minisitaa ke ngali na'a fai ai ha ngāue ke vete 'a e fo'i lao 'e ua hangē 'oku na fepaki. Ko e lao 'oku ne faka'atā e tu'i ke ne fakanofo ha komisiona polisi pea ko e mafai leva ke 'oange ha vahe 'a e komisiona ko e me'a ia 'a e minisitā polisi. 'Oku ngofua 'i he lao polisi ke 'oatu ha tu'utu'uni mei he Minisitaa ki he Komisona i he ngaahi me'a hangē ki he lelei fakalukufua 'a e potungaue mo e ngaahi ngāue ki ha hia ka 'e 'ikai ngofua ke ne kaunoa 'i ha tu'utu'uni 'a e komisiona ki ha ngaahi lakanga 'i he potungaue polisi. Ngali ko e taha eni e feinga faka'osi 'a Māteni Tapueluelu ke kapusi 'a e komisiona hili 'ene fakahā 'oku 'ikai ke ne fiemālie ki he'ene to'o fatongia.

The Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu said he would put a hold to Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell’s pay today (Monday, March 26) if the Privy Council approves a recommendation from its committee to extend his contract.

It is expected the king would make its final decision today.

As Kaniva News reported, the Privy Council’s Judicial Appointment and Discipline Panel has extended the Police Commissioner’s contract.

But the extension depends on the king’s approval.

The Minister of Police claimed he had the power to withhold the commissioner’s pay under  Clause 51 of Tonga’s constitution.

The move could trigger an action to resolve two apparently contradictory laws.

One law gives the king the power to appoint the Police Commissioner and another gives cabinet ministers power to pay the government commissioners and civil servants.

The move could also be seen as the final attempt by Minister of Police in his fights to dismiss Caldwell.

Caldwell’s contract will end next month.

The law said the commissioner could hold office for a period, not exceeding three years and is eligible for re-appointment for one further term only.

It also allowed the minister to give a written direction to the commissioner about the overall administration of Tonga Police, policies and priorities of Tonga Police for — the prevention of crime; community safety and public order and general law enforcement issues. But he cannot interfere in any decisions by the commissioner about members of Tonga Police

Tapueluelu told Kaniva News he was not satisfied with Caldwell’s leadership.

As Kaniva News reported earlier, Hon. Tapueluelu, has openly sided with a number of suspended officers protesting about their treatment.

The Police Commissioner’s position is largely funded by New Zealand.

The government told New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Tonga recently it did not want the Police Commissioner’s contract extended.

Last month a Police spokesman from Caldwell’s office said officers had been suspended for “very good reasons.”

“The Commissioner is confined by what he can say publicly on individual criminal and disciplinary cases currently under investigation,” the spokesperson said.

Tonga’s police force has a troubled history of corruption and abuse.

It also has a history of New Zealand police officers working in Tonga being faced with entrenched opposition from police opposed to attempts to clean up the force.

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