President Ramkalawan with Justice Renaud, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, together with commissioners and HRC chief executive (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) – In 2022, the highest number of alleged human rights violations registered by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission (SHRC) against one entity were against the Seychelles Police Force, the commission’s annual report shows.
A total of 10 registered complaints were logged to the commission against the police. Of the total of 117 lodged enquiries last year, 18 contained complaints of possible human rights violations and were registered to be investigated.
The commission recorded an increase of 50 percent in the total enquiries registered compared to 2021. The largest number of enquiries were related to the right to work, followed by right to property, right to liberty and right to a fair and public hearing.
The SHRC presented the 2022 annual report to President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Tuesday.
When addressing the press after close to two hours of talks with the President, the SHRC chairperson, Justice Bernardin Renaud, said that “In Seychelles, there is more interaction between the police and the public, followed by immigration and prison. As such the ministry with the most public interaction is that of internal affairs. We have started a conversation and developed a way of working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and we are now collaborating to overcome such situations so that they are not repeated,” said Renaud.
“We are getting people who are saying that the police has dealt with them in a wrong manner, a case where individuals have been sent back to their country upon arriving in Seychelles seeking for refugee status, there are prisoners who are looking for their right to be pardoned, and talking about the state of the prison,” continued Renaud.
He outlined that the commission took it upon itself last year to visit police stations across the country to see firsthand the state in which people are held in custody.
“Any place that holds a person against their will should be at a level that is humane and respectable. We visited different police stations in the country, and we don’t want to be seen as targeting police stations. We are just saying that these police stations of the 1900s are not what we need today in 2023. The person being held needs to have water and air, and the place needs to be clean. Hygiene in such places is of great importance,” said Renaud.
Touching on the 117 enquiries brought before the commissioners in 2022, he outlined that “some people came to us after looking for recourse from other institutions with no avail.”
“We analysed these and gave guidance and information. Out of the 117, we retained around 10 cases and took them up with the government so that we could resolve the situations,” said Renaud.
Speaking about the priorities of the SHRC for the coming years, he outlined that a programme called the “Mechanics of the Constitution” has been developed, which will allow the press, media, departments, schools, and other institutions to approach the Constitution in another way and become more aware of their rights.