Seychelles files report on torture, UN responds



Seychelles has sent its first ever report on torture, which United Nations (UN) rapporteurs in Geneva perused and raised “issues of concern” from it, during a video conference held on Monday July 30.

Listening to UN’s live feedback was Seychelles’ delegation, which was headed by Prisons Superintendent Raymond St Ange, whose team was made up of representatives from the prison, the police, the attorney general’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The UN officials thanked Seychelles for the effort to submit the report, albeit belatedly – which Mr St Ange blamed on inadequacy of human and financial resources – but noted that although Seychelles is a signatory to the convention against torture and trafficking of persons, there did not appear to be “domestic laws to deal with such offences if they concurred”.

They noted Seychelles agrees there is no justification for torture even in times of emergency, but wanted to know if and when a person is told the reasons for his or her arrest when apprehended, and if anybody has ever sued the government for wrongful detention.

“Is it only the police who would be held accountable or the arresting officers as well?” the rapporteurs asked, seeking clarification on the conditions under which military officers are detained and for what period.

They asked about visits to prisoners and how successful Chaggosians brought here from their motherland are coping, what rights they have and if they are granted Seychellois citizenship.

Admitting their sources may be inaccurate, the UN officials talked of overcrowding at the prison but Mr St Ange said this was not the case, adding there were a total of 393 people, either serving their sentences or in detention pending trial.

The UN officials sought clarification on the conditions in which women are jailed, for example if they have access to laundry facilities or room for exercises, and if there is provision for those with children and whether it was true they were denied pardon when some of their male counterparts were recently released on parole.

They asked if inmates have access to health services, and questioned if a Somali who died in his motherland could have succumbed to ill treatment he possibly received here before deportation.

They asked the Seychelles delegation to explain circumstances and conditions under which military officers operate alongside the police, and queried the working and living conditions of foreign workers.

The rapporteurs asked about corporal punishment for students, wondering if it is allowed and whether it is carried out.

“Has the UN convention on trafficking and torture been translated into Creole and if not are there plans to do so?” they asked.

Acknowledging the Seychelles Constitution does away with the possible death sentence, and that it is the supreme law of the land, the UN officials wondered why subsidiary legislation mentions the death sentence and if there are plans to revise the laws.

The Seychelles delegation asked for time to seek answers and report back to the UN the following day, which they did, and we hope to furnish our readers with the responses they gave.




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