Capital punishment in Tonga

Capital punishment is legal in Tonga, but has not been imposed for more than thirty years. Amnesty International currently categorises Tonga as an abolitionist in practice.[1]

Under the Criminal Offences Act the crimes of murder and treason may be punished by sentence of death.[2] No such sentence shall be carried out unless approved by the King, and he may commute the sentence to life imprisonment.[3] The death penalty may not be imposed on pregnant women,[4] or on those under 15.[5]

Tonga's chosen method of execution is hanging.[6] The last execution took place on September 7, 1982, after three men, Flatoti Sole, Livingi Sole and Fili Esau, were hanged for murder in the village of Vaini.[7][8] The government considered abolition at the time, but decided to retain the death penalty.[9]

In 2004, a bill to impose the death penalty for drug smuggling was defeated 10-7 in the Tongan Legislative Assembly.[9]

In 2005 Tevita Siale Vola became the first Tongan convicted of murder in 24 years,[8] but the judge declined to impose the death penalty, stating that it was reserved only for "the rarest of rare cases when the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed".[10]

In 2007 it was revealed that several men suspected of murder during the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots might never face trial, after Australian investigators refused to hand over autopsy reports due to concerns about the possible imposition of the death penalty.[11]

In 2008 Tonga voted against the UN moratorium on the death penalty in the United Nations General Assembly.[9]


  1. "Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
  2. Criminal Offences Act, sections 44 and 91.
  3. Criminal Offences Act, section 33.
  4. Criminal Offences Act, section 40.
  5. Criminal Offences Act, section 91.
  6. Criminal Offences Act, section 35.
  7. "Capital punishment in the Commonwealth". Capital Punishment U.K. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  8. 1 2 "Murder conviction Tonga's first in 24 years". Matangi Tonga. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  9. 1 2 3 "Hands Off Cain: Tonga". Hands Off Cain. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  10. "Death Penalty News: January 2006". Amnesty International. 2006. Archived from the original on 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  11. "NZ embroiled in diplomatic row". ONE News. 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2009-07-04.

External links

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