National Assembly Question Time-Police should ensure protection of witnesses and members of jury


The Minister for Home Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan said this in the National Assembly on Tuesday when answering a question by elected member for Au Cap Murielle Marie.

Ms Marie had asked Minister Morgan to explain the witness protection measures in place to ensure the security of people who serve as witnesses or members of jury in court after the accused have been released from prison.

Minister Morgan explained that there are no specific laws which guarantee protection of witnesses or people who serve as members of the jury in court cases, but he pointed out that Section 114, 1F of the Penal Code clearly stipulates that it is an offence to wrongfully interfere with a witness even after giving evidence in court.

It also states that any person who tries to interfere with or influence a witness in a trial either before or after giving evidence in court is guilty of committing an offence and could be imprisoned for a period of three months.

With regard to protection for members of the jury Minister Morgan explained that once a person has been convicted for an offence like murder he or she will be jailed for life and therefore is not in a position to threaten members of the jury or witnesses involved with the case.

Minister Morgan noted that in cases where other people are sent to threaten witnesses or members of the jury, the police do the necessary to protect those concerned and take legal actions against those responsible.

In a supplementary question, Ms Marie wanted to know if a person has any obligation under the law to serve as a witness or member of the jury. Minister Morgan said it is compulsory under the law for a person who has been called to serve as a member of the jury to honour the obligation but noted that only valid reasons why he or she may not be able to do so will be considered.

Asked by elected member for Beau Vallon Mirena Souris what form of protection is being proposed apart from calling on the police for help if any threat arises, Minister Morgan noted that the existing measure has worked reasonably well so far and if there has been any threats legal actions have ensued.

Minister Morgan noted, however, that if there is a need to review the measure in place, the government will do the necessary to ensure maximum protection of any person who exercises his or her duty as a citizen by serving as a witness or member of the jury in court cases.

Minister Morgan added that Seychelles is so small and witness protection programmes which include relocating witnesses in other towns will not work like in other countries because everybody knows everybody else.

He stressed that we have to rely on the police to ensure they give protection to the people concerned and take action against anyone who threatens them.

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