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Illegal Fijians in Tonga

Mere Naleba
Friday, July 25, 2014

SOME members of the Fijian community in Tonga do not have valid passports and therefore cannot participate in the General Elections.

Tonga Fijian community member Iliesa Tora, who was also the former interim president of the Tonga Fijian community, said many members lived illegally in Tonga.

"The Fijian community here in Tonga would like to ask government if there is a possibility of a team from the Immigration Department coming to Tonga to help with the issuance of new passports for Fijians living and working in Tonga who might have lost their passports or have invalid passports," Mr Tora said.

"It is also our wish that our people here be registered for the elections."

Minister for Labour Jone Usamate was not aware of the matter, but assured it would be looked into it if it was brought to the attention of his ministry.

Mr Tora said the committee had also tried to seek the assistance of Tonga's deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu in trying to get proper documentation for Fijians without valid passports.

"There are some issues here which unfortunately had forced some of our people into the situations they are in.

"Some who had come to work here in Tonga were not looked after by their employers and this led to them leaving and finding employment elsewhere," he said.

"In those instances passports are normally kept by the original employer.

"Others leave or are told to leave and find their own way home to Fiji because of disagreements with their employers.

"The problem we identified was that most did not have proper work contracts or if they had signed contracts, some did not fully understand what they were signing."

Mr Tora said members of the committee were grateful to the Tongan Government for allowing Fijians to live in Tonga and work, despite their circumstances.

"The advice we have given our people here is just to make sure that they work hard, be good citizens, respect the law and keep the peace.

"We are hoping that they can be helped, especially now that teams have been going to Australia and England to help those who have lost their passports or no longer have valid passports."

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