Sexual assault on minors’ alarming prevelent’ in Tonga-Chief Justice
Tonga’s Chief Justice has stated that sexual offences on minors are “alarmingly prevalent” in the country.
Radio New Zealand reports Lord Chief Justice Michael Whitten made the statement while sentencing two 16 year olds boys to non-custodial sentences this week for the indecent assault of a 15 year old girl.
The boys pleaded guilty to indecent assault and carnal knowledge charges.
Mr Whitten said a custodial sentence would normally be warranted to reflect the Court’s condemnation of the “alarmingly prevalent type of offending” and to protect young girls.
However early guilty pleas, co-operation with police, age concerns, and previous good records led to non-custodial sentences being handed out.
Both were placed on probation for two years and given between 40 and 60 hours of community service.
Other conditions applied were that they must abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs and must complete courses on alcohol, drug awareness and life skills.
Police confirmed indecent assault of minors and rape in general were acts high on the list of crimes reported each week.
‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, from the Women and Children Crisis Center, said that sexual assault in Tonga was actually very much under-reported.
“Even those that are reported face challenges because once the victim realises the possibility of grilling she would have to go through in court to prove the sexual assault charges, they normally withdraw,” she said.