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Concerns mount after claims judge’s contract was renewed before being axed

Supreme Court Justice Laki Niu ends his contract with the government on June 30, according to a recent announcement by the Lord Chancellor.

Lord Afeaki. Photo/Facebook

However, veteran publisher and Tongan journalist Kalafi Moala claims to have evidence that Judge Niu’s contract was actually extended before being cancelled.

In his earlier announcement, Lord Afeaki said the king and his panel and government were grateful for Mr Niu’s service to Tonga and they wished his family well in his retirement.

However, the announcement was followed by allegations that the judge’s contract was extended for another two years in May 2022 until 2024 before the authority changed its decision and cancelled the extension.

Kaniva News has contacted the Lord Chancellor for comment.

Moala alleged Mr Niu was happy to continue in his job, but was later told to remove his personal effects from the court’s office and leave.

Mr Niu could not be reached for comment.


Moala said the Lord Chancellor’s announcement of Mr Niu’s contract ending appeared misleading.

“It was wrong and untrue according to what has been received”, Moala said in Tongan.

He alleged that there was an agreement with Mr Niu to continue his job, but that he was later told his contract was ended.

Replacement of Mr Niu

The Lord Chancellor also announced that one of his Lord counsels for the king, lawyer Petunia Tupou, would replace Judge Niu.

Kaniva News understands that Tupou’s appointment was criticised by some of the top lawyers in the kingdom.

PTOA Democratic Party supporters also criticised the appointment of Mrs Tupou, asking why the government appeared not to make use of Mr Niu’s four-year experience and give him an extension. 

The Judicial panel

Lord Afeaki was the chair of the king’s Judicial Panel.

The Panel is established to consider suitably qualified and appropriate candidates for judicial office and is not established for the promotion of its members to the Judiciary.

However, the judicial body was heavily criticised in a 2014 constitutional review for being undemocratic and having “no basis for legitimacy under the Constitution”.

The appointment of Lord Afeaki as chair was also criticised for being surrounded by conflict of interest.

Lord Afeaki was also recently accused by the Tonga Law Society of being incompetent after he was appointed Acting Chief Justice of Tonga.