Public Order Act needs to be replaced -- EC


13-February-2013

The new Act, according to the EC, should reflect the desires of President James Michel to “continue to promote democracy in our country” and “that Seychelles can become a shining example for the good governance and democracy in the world”.

The EC said this in a communique in response to the Attorney-General’s reaction to a draft report on reforms of the Public Order Act (Cap 194), which was submitted by the EC to President Michel.

In a recent letter to the EC chairman Hendrick Gappy, AG Ronny Govinden had noted that the recommendations made by the commission only cover the aspects governing public gatherings, and that the Public Order Act is an overarching piece of legislation covering all aspects of law and order in the country, and therefore cannot be repealed in its entirety without compromising all other important elements it contains for the general maintenance of law and order.

In its letter of reply to the Attorney-General, the EC said it is gratified to note that government appreciated its contribution towards the electoral reform process.

“The Electoral Commission recognises that the existing Public Order Act is an ‘overarching’ piece of legislation covering all aspects of law and order in the country. However, the Electoral Commission consulted most recent legislation from other countries and considered what is deemed to be international good practice in promoting democracy as well as being guided by our Constitution. The Electoral Commission is firm in its belief that the current Public Order Act which dates from 1959 is outdated and needs to be revoked and replaced with a fresh new Act which reflects the desires of the President to ‘continue to promote democracy in our country’ and ‘that Seychelles can become a shining example for the good governance and democracy in the world’,” says the EC letter to the AG.

“The Electoral Commission is conscious of its mandate as stated in Article 115A of the Constitution which states clearly that the Electoral Commission ‘shall review existing legislation governing electoral matters and make recommendations to the Government’. The Electoral Commission believes that recommendations can include introduction of new legislation. In proposing a draft legal instrument to the President, the Electoral Commission had no intention of usurping the authority of the Attorney-General’s Office, but this was meant to bring greater clarity to the principles of the Commission’s recommendations,” added the EC letter.

Furthermore, the Electoral Commission noted that a response on the Public Order Act had taken over five months and expressed concern at the time taken to consider the reforms. The Electoral Commission brought to the attention of the Attorney-General that immediately after the Parliamentary Elections in 2011, the President issued a reminder to the Commission to “speed up electoral reform”.

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