Tonga to ratify CEDAW still stands, referendum possible

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said there is a possibility to hold a referendum on his government’s move to ratify the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) after he found out while he was in Japan in a meeting last week there were protest marches in Nuku’alofa against the convention.

But he warned the referendum process would be costly and time consuming.

Hon. Pohiva’s government has announced it move to ratify CEDAW in March.

The Honourable Prime Minister said CEDAW was one of the United Nations’ initiatives that were introduced to help women in Tonga in the last 12 years or so. He said he was mystified by the fact that no church leaders or groups ever raised any concerns over the convention while it was repeatedly debated in the House or while the Tonga Civil Society conducted workshops on it in the past.

In an interview with Tnews New Zealand in Tongan, Hon. Pohiva said the issue has divided the nation and he “believed” a referendum should be carried out and let the people make the decision.


CEDAW critics claimed the convention would open the door for same sex marriage and abortion but Tonga’s Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Fe’ao Vakata said they “forgot” the fact the UN’s convention was design to “elevate” women in their rank, power and dignity.

The minister told Kaniva News this evening the cabinet decision to ratify CEDAW still stands and the government has not changed it.

Hon.Vakata said cabinet will hold its next meeting this Friday and he hope the Prime Minister’s referendum option would be on the agenda.


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