Constitution of Tonga

Last updated

Coat of arms of Tonga.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Administrative divisions
Flag of Tonga.svg Tongaportal

The Constitution of Tonga is supreme law under which the Government of Tonga operates. It was enacted by King George Tupou I on 4 November 1875. It stipulates the makeup of the Tongan Government and the balance between its executive, legislature, and judiciary. The anniversary of its passage is celebrated annually as Tonga's Constitution Day.

Tonga country in Oceania

Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. The sovereign state has a population of 100,651 people, of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu.

George Tupou I King of Tonga

George Tupou I, King of Tonga was originally known as Tāufaʻāhau I, or Tupou Maeakafa Ngininginiofolanga in modern spelling. He adopted the name Siaosi, the Tongan version of George, after King George III of the United Kingdom, when he was baptized in 1831. His nickname was Lopa-ukamea, meaning iron cable.

The constitution is separated into three parts. Part one is a declaration of rights of the Tongan people. Part two addresses the form of government. Part three provides laws for land ownership, succession, and sale.

The Declaration of Rights provides for the basic human rights of the people of Tonga. It firstly established Tonga as a free nation. It prohibits slavery except as a form of punishment for great crime, and establishes Tonga as a haven for those who have escaped slavery in a foreign nation. It establishes equal law for all citizens of Tonga despite their class or ethnicity. The constitution provides the freedoms of worship, press, speech, petition, and assembly as well. It establishes a Sabbath day on Sunday during which no trade or professional or commercial undertakings are to be pursued. It applies the writ of Habeas Corpus to its people and provides for basic rights of the accused, such as protection from double jeopardy. It establishes a national tax in return for protection of life, liberty, and property. It holds soldiers equally accountable to civil law. It establishes the qualifications to be selected as a juror and establishes an age of maturity for the inheritance of title or land. Finally, it states that any foreigner who has lived in Tonga for at least 5 years may take an oath of allegiance and become a naturalised citizen, granted all the same rights and privileges of natural born Tongans except for the right of hereditary tax allotments.

Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction. As described by the U.S. Supreme Court in its unanimous decision concerning Ball v. United States 163 U.S. 662 (1896), one of its earliest cases dealing with double jeopardy, "the prohibition is not against being twice punished, but against being twice put in jeopardy; and the accused, whether convicted or acquitted, is equally put in jeopardy at the first trial."

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy in which the King exercises executive power through his Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in the Legislative Assembly. The King can legislate through the Privy Council when the Assembly is not in session, but such ordinances must be subsequently confirmed by the Assembly to become law.

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

Legislative Assembly of Tonga

The Legislative Assembly of Tonga has 26 members in which 17 members elected by majority of the people for a 5-year term in multi-seat constituencies via the single non-transferable vote system. There are 9 members elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga. The Assembly is controlled by the speaker of the House who is elected by majority of the elected members of Parliament and constitutionally appointed by the king.

The constitution can be amended by the Legislative Assembly, provided this does not affect the "law of liberty", the monarchical succession, or the titles or estates of the nobles. Amendments must pass the Legislative Assembly three times, and be unanimously supported by the Privy Council.

Related Research Articles

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen foundational document of the French Revolution

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, set by France's National Constituent Assembly in 1789, is a human civil rights document from the French Revolution.

Politics of Tonga

Politics of Tonga takes place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the King is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Tonga's Prime Minister is currently appointed by the King from among the members of Parliament after having won the support of a majority of its members. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in the King in Parliament, and judicial power is vested in the supreme court.

The Basic Laws of Sweden are the four fundamental laws of the Kingdom of Sweden that regulate the Swedish political system, acting in a similar manner to the constitutions of most countries. These are the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act, the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression and the Act of Succession. Together, they constitute a basic framework that stands above other laws and regulation, and also define which agreements are themselves above normal Swedish law, but subordinate to the fundamental laws, namely the European Convention on Human Rights and several UN and EU treaties and conventions.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights is a document drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to reform or abolish "inadequate" government. It influenced a number of later documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the United States Bill of Rights (1789).

The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the Republic of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the republic,it sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the government. The current constitution, the country's fifth, was drawn up by the Parliament elected in 1994 in the South African general election, 1994. It was promulgated by President Nelson Mandela on 18 December 1996 and came into effect on 4 February 1997, replacing the Interim Constitution of 1993.

French Constitution of 1793 constitution

The Constitution of 1793, also known as the Constitution of the Year I or the Montagnard Constitution, was the second constitution ratified for use during the French Revolution under the First Republic. Designed by the Montagnards, principally Maximilien Robespierre and Louis Saint-Just, it was intended to replace the outdated Constitution of 1791. With sweeping plans for democratization and wealth redistribution, the new document promised a significant departure from the relatively moderate goals of the Revolution in previous years.

Limited government form of government

In political philosophy, limited government is where the government is empowered by law from a starting point of having no power, or where governmental power is restricted by law, usually in a written constitution. It is a key concept in the history of liberalism. The United States Constitution presents an example of the federal government not possessing any power except what is delegated to it by the Constitution — with the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution making explicit that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved for the people and the states. The Magna Carta and the United States Constitution also represents important milestones in the limiting of governmental power. The earliest use of the term limited government dates back to King James VI and I in the late 16th century. Limited government put into practice often involves the protection of individual liberty from government intrusion.

Constitution of Italy supreme law of Italy

The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 15 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947. The Constituent Assembly was elected by universal suffrage on 2 June 1946, at the same time as a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy. The Constitution came into force on 1 January 1948, one century after the Statuto Albertino had been enacted. Although the latter remained in force after Benito Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922, it had become devoid of substantive value.

Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties of India Rights provided to Indian citizens

The Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties are sections of the Constitution of India that prescribe the fundamental obligations of the states to its citizens and the duties and the rights of the citizens to the State. These sections comprise a constitutional bill of rights for government policy-making and the behaviour and conduct of citizens. These sections are considered vital elements of the constitution, which was developed between 1947 and 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India.

Constitution of Argentina

The Constitution of Argentina is the basic governing document of Argentina, and the primary source of existing law in Argentina. Its first version was written in 1853 by a Constitutional Assembly gathered in Santa Fe, and the doctrinal basis was taken in part from the United States Constitution. It was then reformed in 1860, 1866, 1898, 1949, 1957, and the current version is the reformed text of 1994.

Constitution of Vermont (1777) constitution for the Republic of Vermont

The first Constitution of Vermont was drafted in July 1777, almost five months after Vermont declared itself an independent country, now frequently called the Vermont Republic. It was in effect until its extensive revision in 1786. The second Constitution of Vermont went into effect in 1786 and lasted until 1793, two years after Vermont was admitted to the Union as the fourteenth state. In 1791 Vermont became the fourteenth US state and in 1793 it adopted its current constitution.

Constitution of Belize

The Constitution of Belize is the supreme law of the nation of Belize. It was signed on September 1981 with effect from that date.

Constitution of Azerbaijan constitution

The Constitution of Azerbaijan was adopted on 12 November 1995 by popular referendum. This Constitution was the first Constitution of independent Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic founded in 1918 and existed 23 months until 1920 was not able to adopt its constitution. Therefore, the history of Constitution building in Azerbaijan generally starts from the period of Azerbaijan being part of Soviet Union. The first Constitution of Azerbaijan SSR was adopted in 1921 and was in accordance with the Constitution of USSR. The last Constitution of Azerbaijan SSR was adopted on 21 April 1978 and also was in line and form of USSR Constitution. The first Constitution of independent Azerbaijan consists of 5 chapters, 12 sections and 147 articles. It was amended on 24 August 2002 and again on 18 March 2009. It carries the "highest legal force" in Azerbaijan as per article 147. The most recent amendments to the Constitution were approved after the Constitutional referendum held on 26 September 2016. In 2002, 31 amendments were made to 22 articles; in 2009, 41 amendments were made to 29 articles; and in 2016, 23 articles were amended and new 6 new articles were added.

An eternity clause in the constitution or basic law of a country is a clause intended to ensure that the law or constitution cannot be changed by amendment. Eternity clauses are a type of entrenched clause in the constitutions of the Czech Republic, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Morocco, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Federative Republic of Brazil and Norway.

Privy Council of Tonga supreme court

The Privy Council of Tonga is the highest ranking council to advise the Monarch in the Kingdom of Tonga. It is empowered to advise the King in his capacity as Head of State and Fountain of Justice under the provisions of Clause 50 of the Constitution of Tonga:

Constitution of Apatzingán

The Constitution of Apatzingán, was promulgated on October 22, 1814, by the Congress of Anahuac gathered in the city of Apatzingán because of the persecution of the troops of Félix María Calleja. The Constitution was valid for insurgent forces in the territories where it gained control during the Mexican War of Independence.

Constitution of Bhutan

The Constitution of Bhutan was enacted 18 July 2008 by the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Constitution was thoroughly planned by several government officers and agencies over a period of almost seven years amid increasing democratic reforms in Bhutan. The current Constitution is based on Buddhist philosophy, international Conventions on Human Rights, comparative analysis of 20 other modern constitutions, public opinion, and existing laws, authorities, and precedents. According to Princess Sonam Wangchuck, the constitutional committee was particularly influenced by the Constitution of South Africa because of its strong protection of human rights.

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy with a population of approximately 130,000. Politics and the economy are dominated by the king, the nobility, and a few prominent commoners. Economic, social and cultural rights are generally well respected. There are, however, a number of issues concerning protection of civil and political rights, particularly freedom of expression, and rights to political participation. Violence against women is a serious issue.

Women's rights in Tonga, as compared to the United Nations goals of CEDAW, fail to comply entirely with the conventions requirements. Although considerations have been made by the Tongan parliament and government, ratification of CEDAW still remains unresolved. Factors determining the non-ratification of CEDAW are related to cultural protectionism of the Anga Fakatonga or "the Tongan way" of Tongan culture. Issues of Women's rights in Tonga include factors of women's land right, violence against women, political participation in parliament, and general cultural attitude towards the gender inequalities within Tonga. Many of the issues of gender inequalities within the Tongan culture are reinforced in the home and complex structures of the cultural family hierarchy.

Constitution of Djibouti

The Constitution of Djibouti was ratified in 1992 and amended in 2010. The constitution is divided into 13 titles which together contain 97 articles.


    See also