Police sacked in Tonga over criminal and disciplinary matters

This story was originally appeared on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission

Twenty-one police officers in Tonga have been sacked over criminal convictions and serious disciplinary breaches.

Police Commissioner Steven Caldwell released a statement confirming the Tonga Police Board had terminated the employments following a hearing last month on a loss of confidence in their positions.

Board chair Justice Cato said the officers failed to live up to the ethical and professional standards required of a Tongan Police Officer.

Of the 21 dismissals, 14 were based on serious disciplinary breaches that included unauthorised absence, failure to complete the recruitment requirements and sexual harassment.

Seven dismissals were based on criminal cases that include extortion, obtain money by false pretences, theft, assaults, reckless driving causing death and forgery.

With regards to the two sexual harassment cases, Justice Cato said it represented totally unacceptable behaviour which could not be tolerated.

“Females or for that matter any police officer is entitled to serve free from harassment of any kind be it sexual, bullying, or other humiliating conduct.

“There must be adequate avenues provided and education to allow officers who fall victim to these practices to make a timely complaint and seek professional advice within the force and if need be in confidence. If there is an adverse culture in the Tonga Police or parts of it, that culture must be arrested forthwith.”

Commissioner Steven Caldwell said the public rightly expected the highest levels of professionalism and ethical behaviour from their police.

“There is absolutely zero tolerance for unlawful and ill-disciplined behaviour. Every police officer is accountable to the law, not above it.”

Commissioner Caldwell commended the courage of the policewomen who came forward to make their complaints.

Since 2015, 64 police officers have been suspended from duty, 44 were under criminal investigations and 20 for disciplinary issues. Three are serving jail time.

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