Proposals to Public Order Act in the spotlight


15-May-2012

This was done during the 13th session of the Forum on Electoral Reform last Wednesday.
The principal recommendation among the series of 12 proposals was the repealing of the current Public Order Act to be replaced by a new one to be called the Public Assembly Act.
 
In making all the recommendations, the Office of the Electoral Commission reiterated that it is mindful of the fact that the recognition of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly forms part of the foundation of a democratic society, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Third Republic of Seychelles.

As such, another fundamental change proposed from present practice is that while the current Public Order Act provides for persons wishing to hold public assemblies to apply for permission, the proposal now is that a notice is given to the Commissioner of Police.

The latter would then apply conditions as may be deemed necessary to maintain public order, as provided for in the Constitution.

The Commission also acknowledges that peaceful assemblies can serve many purposes, including, but not limited to, the expression of views, celebrations, commemorations, and the defence of common interests.

Freedom of peaceful assembly is also complemented by other rights and freedoms such as freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of thought. As such, freedom of assembly is of fundamental importance for the personal development, dignity and fulfillment of every individual in a society and for the progress and well-being of the society.

In the process to come up with a credible set of recommendations, the Office of the Electoral Commission has also consulted various international charters, treaties and conventions that Seychelles has either acceded or is party to.  These include: the International Covenant of the Civil and Political Rights (1996), African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1981), and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 Article 23 of the Seychelles Constitution is backed up by all these treaties.
After the presentation of the recommendations, representatives from the different political parties provided their reactions. The ruling party cautioned against restricting the powers of the Commissioner of Police under the new Act while most of the other parties took the view that there must be more freedom to allow citizens to exercise their fundamental right of assembly.

The Electoral Reform is an ongoing process and all views will be noted and included in the final recommendations which will be presented to the government in a more substantiated format.

Still maintaining its stance as a neutral and independent body, the Office of the Electoral Commission stated that the recommendations have taken into account views and/or proposals from the citizens, voters and different political parties.

The Electoral Commission had previously organised different consultative meetings throughout the districts of the country to encourage people to be part of the electoral reform process.
 
The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Hendrick Gappy, has thanked all parties concerned, individuals and the people of Seychelles for their input.

“This process has enriched us,” he stated.
The Electoral Reform Forum continues this week with more reactions to the recommendations made last week on the Public Order Act.

Communique from the Office of the Electoral Commission

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