Tonga’s Catholic Church opposes ratification of CEDAW

Tonga’s Cardinal Mafi has written a letter giving the reasons the Catholic church does not support the Government’s decision to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of any form of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW].

Mafi says all forms of discrimination against women are already clear enough in Tonga’s laws and are forbidden in Christian churches.

He says the reason the church does not approve of the conventionis that some of the clauses in it are in conflict with the church’s beliefs, like abortion and same sex marriage.

Mafi says the nation’s motto “God and Tonga are my inheritance” highlight the fact that God is first.

And so everything has to go accordingly with God’s plans and not what the United Nations wants, he says.

The Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva says the decision to ratify was arrived at only after thorough discussions and consultations with the community and church leaders as some of the provisions of CEDAW are clearly in conflict with Tonga’s Constitution and laws.

He says the decision to ratify was made on the very clear understanding that the Government’s ratification will be with reservations in respect of those provisions that are incompatible with local laws.

In effect, this means that Tonga is prepared to apply the provisions of the Convention nationally, on the condition that it does not conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and laws of Tonga regarding succession to the throne and nobility, abortion and same sex marriage.

Mr Pohiva says the duration of the reservations will be unlimited.

The UN has tentatively welcomed the move.

However the Officer in Charge of the Regional UN Human Rights Office for the Pacific, Satya Jennings, insisted that once Tonga has undergone the actual ratification process, it should bring national legislation in line with “international standards”.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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