Attorney General (Tonga)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coat of arms of Tonga.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The position of Attorney General was established in the Kingdom of Tonga in 1988. From 1988 to 2009, the Attorney General jointly held the office of Minister of Justice.[1]

The current Attorney General is Neil Adsett, since 16 January 2012. He "has been a barrister and solicitor for over 30 years", and had recently been involved in Tonga's constitutional and electoral reforms. He is expected to serve for four years. He succeeded Barrie Sweetman, a Fiji lawyer who had served in an interim capacity during the previous six months.[2]

The Tongan government in 2010 defined the Attorney General as "Chief Legal Advisor to Government", with the following responsibilities:

"Supporting constitutional integrity and governance; Ensuring legislative and statutory efficacy; Facilitating Government’s lawful and responsible legal dealings; Providing legal advice on law reform; Executing statutory enforcement powers; Perform [sic] responsibilities in an independent and transparent manner".[3]

Following constitutional reforms, applicable as from Adsett's appointment in January 2012, the Attorney General is reportedly

"the principal legal advisor to Cabinet and Government, and with the Solicitor General and other law officers will be responsible for prosecutions and legal cases for and against the government, the drafting of legislation for the Government and parliament, and generally for ensuring that the Constitution and laws of Tonga are understood and upheld by Government and individuals".[2]

As of August 2011, the Kingdom has had at least seven Attorneys General:[1]

John Cauchi, appointed in May 2009, was the first Attorney General not to hold the portfolio of Justice Minister. He was also the first non-Tongan to hold the office, being an Australian citizen.[4] He resigned the position on 30 April 2010.[5] It is not currently clear how many people held the position between Cauchi's resignation and Sweetman's appointment. In early 2011, the CIA Factbook stated the Attorney General was ʻAsipeli ʻAminiasi Kefu.[6] However this may have been an error, as other sources described Kefu as the Solicitor General. Minister for Justice Samiu Vaipulu was the Attorney General just prior to Sweetman's appointment; the latter thus disassociated the two positions, which had once again been combined in a single person.[7]

Matangi Tonga has noted that three of the country's Attorneys General (namely Tupou and both Taumoepeaus) "have been told to resign".[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Minister of Justice and Attorney General resigns" Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Matangi Tonga, 1 June 2009
  2. ^ a b "Neil Adsett appointed as Tonga’s new Attorney General", Islands Business, 24 January 2012
  3. ^ "Attorney General of the Kingdom of Tonga"[permanent dead link], Tongan government website, 5 May 2010
  4. ^ "Tonga's new Attorney General" Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Matangi Tonga, 2 June 2009
  5. ^ "Tonga's Attorney General quits accusing Govt of protecting cronies". Radio Australia. 30 April 2010. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  6. ^ Tonga: Cabinet members, CIA World Factbook, 31 January 2011
  7. ^ "Tonga's opposition welcomes foreign legal appointees", Radio Australia, 1 September 2011