COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports of Tonga (CERD/C/319/Add.3),
at its 1298th meeting, on 18 August 1998. At its 1302nd meeting, on
20 August 1998, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the presentation of the State party's report, but regrets that the absence
of a delegation in its meeting did not allow it to enter into a dialogue
with the State party. The Committee notes that the report does not follow
the guidelines for the presentation of reports.
B. Positive aspects
3. The regularity in the
presentation of periodic reports is most welcome, considering that Tonga
is a small country with limited resources.
4. It is noted with satisfaction
that the Constitution contains provisions prohibiting the practice of
racial discrimination and ensuring equal rights for all the people in
the territory of the State party. The statement in the report to the
effect that measures taken to encourage integration and multiracial
organizations have been promoted by allowing non-Tongans to participate
in schools, business, religion and other aspects of public life is also
noted with interest.
5. The Constitution also
contains provisions allowing any individual to bring complaints about
discrimination on racial grounds before the courts. The statement in
the report indicating that there have been no court decisions on any
case relating to racial discrimination is also noted.
C. Principal subjects of concern
6. The report does not contain
sufficient information that would allow the Committee to assess the
level of implementation of the Convention in Tonga.
7. Concern is expressed,
in particular, at the lack of legislation intended to enforce the provisions
contained in article 4 of the Convention and at the statement contained
in the report that Tonga has no express policy on the elimination of
8. In view of the ethnic
characteristics of the population, the structure of power in the country
and the configuration of the Legislative Assembly, it is regretted that
the State party has not provided detailed information about the implementation
of the provisions of article 5 of the Convention vis-à-vis the different
9. It is a matter of concern
that, as the Convention has not been incorporated into the domestic
law, it cannot be invoked in the courts.
D. Suggestions and recommendations
10. The Committee recommends
that the next report provide updated information about the population,
in conformity with paragraph 8 of the Committee's general guidelines.
The report should also contain detailed information about the practical
implementation of the Convention, especially articles 4 and 5.
11. The Committee recommends
that the State party provide a core document as soon as possible.
12. The Committee recommends
that subjects intended to promote tolerance among different ethnic groups
be incorporated in school curricula.
13. The Committee suggests
that, in the preparation of its next periodic report, the Government
of Tonga may wish to avail itself of the technical assistance provided
under the advisory services and technical assistance programme of the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
14. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of States Parties to the Convention.
15. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention and some members of the Committee requested that the
possibility of such a declaration be considered.
16. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 17 March 1999, address
all the points raised in the present observations. It also expresses
the hope that a delegation be present when the Committee considers the