Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy, and political life is dominated by the king, the nobility, and a few prominent commoners. Citizens lacked the ability to effectively change their government. A commission on political reform is studying legislative proposals that would make way for parliamentary elections in 2010 under a revised political framework in which a majority of members of parliament would be elected by the people. The Tongan king has agreed on the need for democratic reform. The government at times restricts the freedom of the media to cover political topics. Government corruption and discrimination against women are continuing problems.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The protection of human rights and the fostering of democratic institutions in the country are top priorities of the U.S. Government. The United States maintains dialogue with all political factions in the country, including the prodemocracy movement, with the goal of encouraging progress on political and electoral reforms. The United States also focuses on building the capacity of prodemocracy NGOs and nascent political parties to ensure the successful implementation of these reforms. The United States is working to promote political reconciliation and dialogue between prodemocracy and conservative forces. The United States engages with the government and civil society to develop programs that promote free and fair elections, the rule of law, good governance, and judicial independence. The United States promotes transparency, accountability, and a commitment to representative government. 

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. officials frequently engage senior officials, journalists, media organizations, and other civil society activists to underscore the importance of democratic reforms, human rights, rule of law, and good governance. The United States has funded local NGOs to hold voter education workshops. Through the International Visitor Leadership Program, media representatives and democracy and human rights activists travel to the United States to learn about grassroots democracy, the media's role in a democracy, and the U.S. electoral system. In 2008 a civil servant traveled to the United States to study legislative drafting, and a civil society activist visited the United States to study public policy.

Through education, training programs, and joint exercises, U.S. officials engage with the military to reinforce proper civil-military relations and advance overall respect for human rights.