Tonga Police Board terminates 21 police officers from employment

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Nuku’alofa, Tonga – The Tonga Police Board has terminated 21 police officers from employment based on the recommendations of the Police Employment Committee following Board hearings on 19 October – 22 October 2020.

According to the media statement by the Police, the main reasons for their termination were loss of confidence over criminal convictions and serious disciplinary breaches.

Justice Cato who is the Chairman of the Police Board reiterated in his judgments the failure of these police officers to live up to the ethical and professional standards required of a Tongan Police Officer.

The termination includes 14 police officers who were absent from duty without authorization, failure to complete recruitment requirements and sexual harassment. The remaining 7 were terminated on criminal cases involving extortion (obtaining money under false pretenses), theft, assaults, reckless driving causing death, and forgery.

In the 2 cases of sexual harassment, Justice Cato said, “The sexual harassment is totally unacceptable behavior and must not be tolerated in the Tonga Police. 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.”

“The public rightly expect the highest levels of professionalism and ethical behaviour from their Police. There is absolutely zero tolerance for unlawful and ill-disciplined behavior. Every police officer is accountable to the law, not above it,” said Commissioner Caldwell.

Commissioner Caldwell further commended the female police officers for the courage to come forward and make their complaints known, this has led to the Police Board laying the ground work toward a safe working environment.

Since 2015 Commissioner Caldwell has suspended 64 police officers from duty, 44 were under criminal investigations, and 20 for disciplinary issues. There are 3 police officers who were charged currently serving time in prison.

The Tonga Police Board members are Hon. Justice Cato (Chairman), Lord Tevita Tupou, and Mrs. Alisi Taumoepeau.

Source: Media release by Tonga Police

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