LDS condemns airport search by ANB on presidential candidate Wavel Ramkalawan | 12 February 2020
• ANB says the matter is under investigation
The Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) has condemned the action of officials of the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) in searching the luggage of its presidential candidate, Wavel Ramkalawan, and taking away his diplomatic passport on his return from South Africa on Saturday February 8, 2020.
In a communiqué released yesterday, LDS says it holds that the action was unwarranted and unacceptable, showing a lack of respect for a political leader who is the leader of the opposition and who was travelling on a mission relating to his position as a member of the National Assembly. It considers that the search, which must be perceived as suspicion of drug trafficking, was intended to smear his image in the eyes of the public.
“The ANB has the authority to search persons but this authority should only be exercised on reasonable grounds. The fact that Mr Ramkalawan has been declared as presidential candidate of the LDS in the forthcoming presidential election suggests that this action was politically motivated and malicious,” says LDS in the communiqué.
“It is to be noted that the diplomatic passport confers an official status which deserves due respect and that specific regulations apply as to how and when it can be taken from the holder,” adds the LDS communiqué.
LDS has called on the Commissioner of Police to undertake the necessary investigation into the incident to ascertain the motive and call to account whoever is responsible for the decision to conduct the search.
“LDS protests in the strongest possible terms only to ensure that the authority of the ANB as a branch of the Police Force is not used for any improper action, especially anything that suggests political motivation. It has to be noted that attempts have in the past been made to smear election candidates, including with the accusation of involvement with drugs,” noted the LDS communiqué.
“The ANB has a crucial task in the effort against drug trafficking and its authority to conduct searches is not in question. But such actions must in every instance be based on legitimate grounds otherwise they defeat the very purpose they are intended to serve. LDS remains fully supportive of the Police Force and the ANB in every legitimate effort to combat drug trafficking in our country,” concludes the communiqué.
Meanwhile, in relation to the incident, the ANB has confirmed that on Sunday February 9, 2020, the leader of the opposition officially lodged a complaint against the Seychelles Police Force, following his arrival at the Seychelles International Airport and his encounter with ANB officers at the Seychelles International Passengers Arrival Terminal, at the Customs Area.
“As a result of the complaint, on the same day it was received and recorded, an investigation was initiated to establish the circumstances and element of the nature of the complaint. The investigation into this matter is still in progress,” the ANB has said in a communiqué.