Assembly approves “long overdue” amendment to Defence Act | 14 May 2020
A long overdue amendment to the Defence Act, according to some parliamentarians, was approved yesterday to provide the Seychelles Coast Guard with unprecedented legal powers to better conduct its maritime operations.
Vice-President Vincent Meriton brought the amendments, which he termed as urgent, before the National Assembly to clarify the Coast Guard’s role within the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF).
“It gives the Coast Guard the same power, role, authority and exemptions as coast guards in other countries. It also provides the Coast Guard with power to conduct arrests, similar to that of the Seychelles Police Force’s, on persons involved in illegal activities on the sea,” VP Meriton explained.
“For Coast Guard to effectively deal with illegal offences which occurs in our waters, it must have sufficient power to collect evidence in our waters as well as on land. We have data that shows that some suspects have tried to escape Coast Guards by hiding out on outer islands. Now, the Coast Guard will be able to pursue them. This power is essential to protect Seychelles’ economic interests and environment.”
The amended law will also promote further cooperation between Coast Guard and various agencies.
VP Meriton also noted that the Defence Act includes a number of outdated regulations and will need to be modernised. The SPDF and the office of the attorney general are already in discussions to conceptualise a new Defence Act.
This new law will also include the new amendments for the Coast Guard.