30 September 2020
In March, Tonga instituted a State of Emergency and shut its borders in order to prevent a domestic outbreak. As with other Pacific-island nations like Palau and Samoa, Tonga remained as of October 2020 one of a small handful of countries that had not reported any COVID-19 cases.
Historically, Tonga has not been a destination for asylum seekers or refugees. There is no national asylum legislation and the country is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. There is little available information about the treatment of migrants or asylum seekers in immigration enforcement procedures in Tonga.
According to the 2020 US Trafficking in Persons Report, there are concerns about the vulnerability of Tongan nationals and foreign individuals to trafficking in Tonga. Since convicting its first trafficker in April 2011, the government has not prosecuted or convicted any trafficking cases. The government has still not developed procedures to proactively identify victims or effectively coordinated anti-trafficking efforts.
- Asian Development Bank, “ADB Provides Tonga with $6 Million for COVID-19 Assistance,” 16 April 2020, https://www.adb.org/news/adb-provides-tonga-6-million-covid-19-assistance
- Human RIghts Council, “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-eighth Session: Tonga,” 16 April 2018, https://uhri.ohchr.org/Document/File/fc02670b-3a4a-4c75-ab3b-a9b91c33a425/b97c21ea-cc4c-459a-a8d2-65c2e4c87380
- U.S. State Department, “Trafficking in Persons Report - 2020,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-trafficking-in-persons-report/
- Students from the Queen Salote School of Nursing Participate in a Repatriation Drill in June 2020, (Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, "Tonga Practices COVID-19 Repatriations," RNZ, 17 June 2020, https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/419162/tonga-practices-covid-19-repatriations)