Tonga - Judicial system



The Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction in major civil and criminal cases. Other cases, heard in the Magistrate's Court or the Land Court, may be appealed to the Supreme Court and then to the Court of Appeal, the appellate court of last resort. The Privy Council has jurisdiction over cases on appeal from the Land Court dealing with titles of nobility and estate boundaries. With the ratification of the 1968 friendship treaty, UK extraterritorial jurisdiction lapsed, and British and other foreign nations became fully subject to the jurisdiction of the Tongan courts. The judiciary is independent of the king and the executive branch, although Supreme Court justices are appointed by the king. Criminal defendants are afforded the right to counsel and the right to a fair public trial is protected by law and honored in practice. The king may commute a death sentence. In addition, the court system consists of a court martial for the Tonga Defense Services, a court tribunal for the police force, and a court of review for the Inland Revenue Department.

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