The Ombudsman was initially established under the name of the Commissioner for Public Relations pursuant to the Commissioner for Public Relations Act 2001 (“CPR ACT”), to operate a classic Ombudsman-like system for the Kingdom of Tonga. On the 6th of December 2016 due to legislative amendments to the CPR Act, the name of the CPR Act was amended to the Ombudsman Act and the name of the Commissioner for Public Relations was amended to that of the Ombudsman.
Brief History of the Ombudsman Office
On or about 1998, the late Crown Prince Tupouto‘a set up in the Ministry of Justice an Interim Committee for Public Complaints. This was an initiative to promote quality service delivery, good administration (fair and responsive), accountability and good governance within government.
In 2001 the Privy Council appointed Mr Siaosi T. ‘Aho as the first Commissioner for Public Relations. Mr. Siasosi T. ‘Aho held this position until 2004. There were 4 staff who assisted the Commissioner in this new role, Mrs. Suliana Vi, Mr. Ma’afu Tonga, Mrs. Mo’onia Taufa and Mr. Mosese ‘Elone.
In 2005, Mr Pita Vuki and Ms Lupe Ha’amoa ‘Ilaiu alternated as Acting Commissioners before Rev. Penisimani Tavalu Fonua was appointed Commissioner in late 2005 until his retirement on 2nd of November 2006.
From 2008 – 2012 there was no person appointed to hold the position of Commissioner which meant the Office existed in name but was ineffective because there was no Commissioner to invoke the powers under the Act.
The Office was the subject of much debate in Parliament during deliberations on the annual budget and many leading politicians called for its closure because the Office was not able to carry out any productive work.
On 29th of June 2012, Mr. Sateki ‘Ahio was appointed as the Acting Commissioner until 12th of March 2014.
On 21st of March 2014, Mr ‘Aisea H. Taumoepeau, SC was appointed Acting Commissioner and was confirmed in November 2014 as the incumbent Commissioner.