SNP and SUP object new Public Order Act |08 January 2014
The Seychelles National Party (SNP) and the Seselwa United Party (SUP) have voiced their objections to the new Public Order Act recently approved by the National Assembly.
This took place in a press conference called by leaders of both parties, Wavel Ramkalawan of SNP and Ralph Volcère of SUP, at the SNP headquarters at Arpent Vert yesterday.
The Public Order Act (POA) was part of the agenda of the Electoral Reform Commission chaired by the Electoral Commission.
Both parties claim the new Act has rejected all recommendations of the Electoral Commission without any consultations with them or with the Electoral Reform Commission. They said a Constitutional Court case is being prepared and they shall take the necessary steps to fight the legislation in the appropriate forums.
They cited six major points of the new Public Service Order Act which they disagree with and these are:
• The new law provides that it is now an offence for one person to show his objection publicly to anything, meaning any demonstration, march or procession by one or more persons is illegal.
• The minister responsible for Internal Affairs usurps the powers of the Commissioner of Police in maintaining law and order and in taking decisions. In so doing the Constitutional responsibilities of the Commissioner of Police have been diluted and taken over by the President’s political appointee, the minister.
• The law gives overwhelming powers to the Commissioner of Police to refuse permission for the holding of public meetings or processions.
“This means that the Constitutional right to freely assemble has been once again taken over by the state, and that right is subject to the authority of the Commissioner of Police, as was the case in the repealed Act, the very reason why it was declared unconstitutional by different forums,” they claim.
• The Appeals Board set up under the law is one comprising five members appointed by the President. They said the recommendation of the Electoral Commission had been for appeals to be heard by a judge of the Supreme Court, thus removing any political influence and ensuring impartiality.
• The new powers given to a police officer, NDEA officer, custom officer or immigration officer to enter private premises without a warrant to arrest, search and confiscate materials are not in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, they said.
• The new law makes it an offence to photograph a police officer when performing his duties and according to them this will allow the police to do whatever they wish without being prosecuted due to lack of evidence.