1 September 2011
THE Deputy Prime Minister is adamant that three Supreme Court Judges are needed for Tonga to avoid back log of court cases.
Hon. Samiu Vaipulu maintained his stance when the Legislative Assembly last week deliberated on the Ministry of Justice 2010 Annual Report.
At present, there are two Supreme Court Judges in the Judiciary including Justice Shuster and Chief Justice of Tonga, Michael Dishington Scott who was recently appointed by the Privy Council to replace Justice Ford.
Hon. Vaipulu noted that it is costly to get additional Judge but pointed out it's inconvenient when there is only one Supreme Court Judge operating in the Judiciary.
"When there was only one Supreme Court Judge working while the Chief Justice was on leave, back log of cases were piling up in court. One is not enough to accommodate demands for court hearing...I understand the salary is an issue but it is urgent to have one more Justice...There's a saying justice delayed is justice denied," asserted the Deputy PM.
On that note, Hon. Vaipulu reiterated that additional Judge is needed to maintain justice and freedom of the people.
Meanwhile Tongatapu 8 MP, Sione Taione a former court mediator maintained two Judges are enough to preside over court proceedings but suggested mediation process to avoid pending court cases.
"In 2009, 308 civil cases were filed and only 169 cases were carried out, 238 civil cases in 2010 and only 83 were put through the courts and 155 were still pending in court...I was working as a mediator and the mediation process was really effective in settling court disputes as well as decreasing the backlog of cases," said Taione.
Taione also recalled in 2008 only two Chief Judges served Tonga at the time and they were able to preside over the 16/11 riots cases in court.
Issued by the: Parliament of Tonga, Nuku'alofa, 2011. www.parliament.gov.to