Findings of commission of inquiry in “unlawful” search of leader of opposition’s luggage | 23 June 2020
Police’s petition has merit, gets judicial review in Supreme Court on July 3
After Judge Rony Govinden ruled earlier this month that the police force’s petition has merit and the case between the Seychelles police force and the commission of enquiry concerning the circumstances associated or surrounded with and leading to the search of the luggage of leader of the opposition Wavel Ramkalawan by Anti-Narcotic Bureau officers can go ahead, the Supreme Court will hear the case on July 3, 2020.
The police force wants the court to make a judicial review asking it to make a pronouncement on if Judge Fiona Robinson was right to declare that the search on Mr Ramkalawan was illegal.
Judge Robinson led the commission of inquiry appointed on February 17 by President Danny Faure to establish the facts of the case in the matter in which Mr Ramkalawan had his luggage searched at the Seychelles International Airport by Anti-Narcotic Bureau (ANB) officers on February 8 upon his return from South Africa.
As per Judge Robinson’s primary findings, one of the officers “did not satisfy the test of reasonable grounds for suspicion before he searched the Hon. Ramkalawan. Consequently, the search on Hon. Ramkalawan was unlawful”.
“The reasonable suspicion test comprises two elements. Firstly, the officer must form a genuine suspicion that he will find a controlled drug or an article liable to seizure for which the search power under section 25 (1) (a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016, allows him or her to conduct a search. Secondly, the suspicion that a controlled drug or an article liable to seizure will be found must be reasonable. As I understand it, the exercise of the power to stop and search depends on the probability that the person searched is in possession of a controlled drug or an article liable to seizure. It does not depend on the person concerned being suspected of committing an offence in relation to the object of the search.
(B) Under section 25 (1) (a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016, an officer must not search a person even with his consent or even when a person voluntarily submits to a search, unless in either case, the search is in accordance with section 25 (1) (a) of the said Act.”
Judge Robinson acknowledged (in secondary findings) evidence which indicates that Mr Ramkalawan instigated the search of his luggage.
Seychelles police force’s lawyer Frank Elizabeth noted that although according to Judge Robinson, the circumstances under which Mr Ramkalawan was searched, even though he did consent to the search, the search was still unlawful, the police force will argue Article 20 on the Constitution.
Lawyer Elvis Chetty, who is representing Judge Robinson has asked for and granted more time to prepare the defence against the police’s petition.