Sunday, September 28, 2014


 A proposal for a special pension for constitutional posts holders of the second Republic was gazetted in “an extraordinary official gazette” on Wednesday 24th September.

The Attorney General’s office has published in the Official Gazette of Wednesday 24 September, a bill which provides for a special pension for those persons who held constitutional posts between 1976 and 1993 – a time frame that covers the Second Republic or the one party era . Among the criteria to qualify for this special pension, the person must have held the post for least 48 months. This requirement means that those who served under the First Republic do not qualify as it did not last for more than one year.

 The Constitutional Posts (Special Pension) bill 2014 will be tabled and eventually debated in the National Assembly and it is expected that the debate will clarify certain points which at the moment appear to be confusing to the layman.

The seeming confusion arises from clauses 4 and 5 as they appear to negate each other. It could also be that something may be missing somewhere to make the reading of the proposed law clearer.

In Clause (4) (b) the bill makes provision for any relevant person benefitting under this special pension to not lose out on his or her right to a pension under Seychelles Pension Fund (if they have contributed to the fund) or any other pension under any other written law. On the other hand Clause (5) states that: “A relevant person shall draw only one pension, at any given time, which is the highest that the relevant person is entitled to.”

Thus it appears that the two clauses negate one another and it will be up to the National Assembly to have this point clarified when the bill goes up for the second reading.

Experts in pension systems have interpreted the proposed law as meaning that while a relevant person still has the right to his or her pension fund pension if he or she qualifies and that person is already benefitting from a constitutional post pension under the Third Republic, he or she will only qualify for the highest of the two pensions.

While there are very few people who will fall in both categories, for those who do, they will only be able to draw the highest pension.
 One example would be former MNA for Port Glaud, Ginette Gamatis. Mrs Gamatis is currently eligible for a pension under the Third Republic so she will not be able to draw one for her contribution in the People’s Assembly. The same applies to former Minister – and current Judge - Jacques Houdoul, former President René and current President Michel who all served under the one party state.

On the other ]hand those who qualify for this special pension but who are still in employment in the civil service can only qualify after they retire.

Among those few who could qualify would possibly be former ministers Ogilvy Berlouis and Dr Maxime Ferrari, both of whom held office during the Second Republic. However this will only apply if they fulfil the requirement in Clause (3) (b) which makes it compulsory for a relevant person to have: “…ceased to hold office as such on the expiry of the term of office or on the commencement of the present Constitution.”

All in all, the bill, if passed, will come into force on 1 January 2015 and will apply to only a very small group of people because of the set criteria.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Avaaz petition asks that three neutral members be added.

A petition was recently launched on the world’s largest and most effective online campaigning website, by Tex J.G. Albert in an attempt to get the attention of the recently formed Seychelles National Forum.

In the petition, Seychellois born Tex J. G. Albert who resides in Canada states that a National Forum is meant to be composed of a neutral committee with representatives having the nation’s interest at heart. Mr Albert also says that those members should be tasked to advise the President on appropriate measures to take in both domestic and foreign issues that impact on society such as socio-economic issues, climate change problems and piracy to name a few.

“But how can the forum be considered neutral and impartial when President Michel himself chairs the committee?”, Mr Albert asks.

 Tex J. G. Albert goes on to mention in his petition that Seychelles acceded to independence from Great Britain on 29 June 1976 but that this was then followed by a coup d'état on 5 June 1977. The current president is the second since the coup d’état and is from the same organisation that led the coup d'état, installing a one-party regime.

“This is a far cry from the spirit of national unity of the coalition government that led the country to independence,” he said.

 The petition which was created last week has been the subject of much interest in Seychelles and the numbers of signatories supporting it is rapidly increasing.

“We the signatories recognise the importance of the creation of the National Consultative Forum in Seychelles, by President James Michel, at this crucial threshold of the history of our nation. We trust that this Forum will address effectively issues of national unity in order to chart with vision and compassion the way forward for an ever stronger united people of Seychelles, empowered to meet with confidence and synergistic resourcefulness the social, economic and environmental challenges we face both locally and globally,” says the online petition.

The objective of the petition is to gain 250 signatories who support the initiative to request the introduction of three more participants in the newly formed National Forum Committee. Mr Albert asks that he is included in the forum.

In addition, the petition request the launch a National Truth, Reparation, Pardon and Reconciliation Commission for a thorough national exercise to address the impact of the 1977 coup d'état and ensuing governance in a spirit of restorative justice as well as to recognise the achievements made by the nation since its independence on the 29th June 1976.

Members of the newly formed National Forum Committee formed on 29 July: President James Michel, Vice-President Danny Faure, Bishop Denis Wiehe, Mr Daniel Belle, Mr Marco Francis, Mr Jude Fred, Mr Bernard Georges, Mr Edmond Hoareau, Mr Michel Madeleine, Mrs Marguerite Mancienne, Mrs Malbrook Pardiwalla, Mr William Rose, Mr Nirmal Kantilal Shah, Mr Patrick Victor and Mr Jean Weeling.

Source: Today

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Seychelles President James Michel headed to New York this weekend to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit, at the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. However, most of the trip was spent shopping at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Foreign exchange taxpayers revenue estimated at over $70,000 spent on the trip for the entourage; whilst the small island nation suffers from foreign exchange shortages.

The Seychelles President was accompanied at summit by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, the Secretary General in the Office of the President, Lise Bastienne, the Ambassador to the US and Permanent Representative to the UN, Marie-Louise Potter and the Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States Issues, Ronny Jumeau.

President Michel made strong statements on the issue of climate change recently in Samoa at the UN conference on Small Island Developing States:

"It is time that we recognise climate change for what it is: a collective crime against humanity. Climate change will be the single largest reason for displacement of peoples in the next 50 years. Climate change is already robbing a generation of its livelihoods. Climate change is robbing island nations of their right to exist. We must save our future together." The full text of the address is here.

To note, Mr. Michel met with the UN Secretary General in the margins of the Samoa conference, and commended the UNSG for his efforts to put climate change on the international agenda. During the meeting Mr Ban Ki-moon said that climate change should be a number one priority for the world community, particularly the rising sea levels, and that he would be mobilizing various governments to materialize their pledges for funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

According to the United Nations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hosting the Climate Summit to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition.

The Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors – to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

The UN has said that: "Climate Summit will be about action and solutions that are focused on accelerating progress in areas that can significantly contribute to reducing emissions and strengthening resilience – such as agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, pollutants, resilience and transportation."


Saturday, September 20, 2014


The CEO of Intershore Aviation (IA), Ahmed Afif, is perplexed. He claims that earlier this month he was “verbally” informed by the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) that it does not intend to process the company’s application for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC), an essential step in setting up an airline. The reason given? An “issue” surrounding the venture’s name: Seychelles Airlines. Mr Afif has since written to the SCAA requesting that its decision be made in writing and, especially, the legal provision underlying it. Yet sources close to the dossier aver that the AOC cannot be processed due to the fact that a court case opposing IA to the Registrar is currently pending in the Supreme Court. What does this deadlock mean for the future of the aspiring airline?

 On June 23, Mr Afif issued a statement in which he declared that Seychelles Airlines had submitted, a few days before, “its formal application and all necessary documentations to the SCAA for an AOC and now awaits the grant of the Certificate in order to move to the next step of applying for an Air Transport Licence”. The company hoped it was nearing its goal of establishing an airline that will operate five weekly nonstop direct flights to Europe (two to Rome, two to Paris and one to Cologne) and thereby occupy the vacuum created by Air Seychelles when it decided to withdraw from these destinations. A couple of weeks later however, the owner of IA, Philippe Boullé, was informed in writing that the SCAA would be unable to grant the AOC while the company was appealing against the Registrar’s request that it change the airline’s name.

 A few months before, on December 10, 2013, the Registrar had sent IA a letter informing the latter that there was an issue with the name Seychelles Airlines and that it would have to be replaced. The company was given 14 days to reply, but on December 23, it lodged a case in the Supreme Court contesting the Registrar’s decision. Mr Afif concedes that the SCAA had informed IA of this problem, but doesn’t understand why it’s blocking the process: “The excuse to suspend the application is irrelevant as the company applying for the AOC is Intershore Aviation Ltd. Seychelles Airlines per se has not applied for an AOC so why suspend the application?”. His puzzlement is compounded by the fact that the Seychelles Airlines was duly registered under the Registration of Business Names Act as early as August 2013.

 So what exactly is the issue? Our source close to the dossier tells us that there’s a risk that passengers might confuse Seychelles Airlines with the national flag carrier, Air Seychelles. Any difficulties experienced by the former further down the road could potentially tarnish the latter by association. For the moment all this is moot anyway as the Attorney General’s Office has apparently advised the SCAA not to process the AOC while the court case is ongoing. Mr Afif believes though that the issue surrounding the brand is “neither here nor there. Since the name Seychelles Airlines is owned by Intershore Aviation, they could have said ‘we are processing your application but once approved we can only issue the AOC provided there is no contention over the name to be used on the aircraft’”.

His exasperation is shared by Seychelles Airline’s deputy CEO, Captain Robert Marie. “I’ve been liaising with the SCAA. Seychelles Airlines has been registered with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)”, he says. In September 2013, the SCAA sent a letter to IA informing it that Seychelles Airlines had received its three-letter code (SCH) and radio call sign (Ocean Bird). “After all this how can they tell us that they have a problem with the name? The SCAA helped us register with the ICAO and now they’re blocking our application.” The former Air Seychelles training captain explains that these delays are “costing a lot of money”, as the company name is central to its brand identity, which will be represented on everything, from its logo to its website. “It would be unprofessional to change our name, it would tarnish our image”.

Mr Afif concedes however that the company is envisaging changing the brand name, “but we want an indication that this will move the dossier forward”. But the issue surrounding the appellation of Seychelles Airlines may not be the only thing holding the project back. Indeed, our source tells TODAY that IA is yet to submit a feasibility study and business plan. But Mr Afif refutes this argument out of hand: “We have not submitted our feasibility and business plan because they have never asked us for this and it is not required for an AOC. An AOC simply checks that you know how to manage an airline operation. The requirement for a business plan may be something they are thinking of when it comes to the second application we will lodge after having got our AOC, so we are not there yet. This will be for an Air Transport Licence which we will apply for from the Minister of Transport, who incidentally is the chairman of our competitor Air Seychelles”.

This apparent breakdown in communication between IA and the SCAA has pushed Mr Afif to become increasingly vocal, denouncing what he believes to be unfair treatment on social media and in strategic tourism industry meetings. Doesn’t he fear that his outspokenness will further jeopardise the chances of Seychelles Airlines? “Everybody we’ve spoken to supports this project. For us, it’s a good business venture but it will also create jobs, bring in more tourists and help with the balance of payments. These delays are reckless; the economy is grinding to a halt and operators are up in arms”, he rails. Our source qualifies allegations that the venture is being blocked as “untrue and malicious”.

Mr Afif says that the airline can be up and running within four to five months of receiving its AOC. The reason why time is of the essence is because the company needs to start its marketing and begin taking bookings for when it does launch. It also needs to finalise details for the lease of the aircraft – a Boeing 767-300 ER - that will be flying to Europe. According to our source, IA’s venture will be judged on its merits and the necessary licences granted, provided the company follows the procedures. He adds that the AOC doesn’t mean that the airline will be able to start operating “right away”. It’ll have to satisfy numerous other conditions – both technical and financial - before it can be deemed fit to operate.

 Barring a minor miracle, this deadlock looks unlikely to be broken anytime soon. 



Seychellois artist, Michael Bouchereau-Arnephie is doing us proud after his artwork titled, “sailfish mackerel hunt,’ was short listed as one of the 66 best submissions for the popular U.S fishing magazine; “Marlin.”

Marlin Magazine’s 380,000  plus readers could soon  be hearing about Seychelles  after popular local artist, Michael Bouchereau-Arnephie submitted three of his popular artwork depicting marine life in Seychelles. An avid fan of the sea and all the critters that inhabit the ocean, the artist uses his strong background in fine arts to illustrate a highly defined form of art using a combination of Photoshop and Corel draw to illustrate marine life.

“I was always open to technology and I like to combine all styles when I work – depending on the subject,”says the artist, who adds that, “working with the digital medium is quicker, more versatile, and it allows me to work in greater detail –though I still like to go back to the old fashioned way of doing things.” Mr Bouchereau-Arnephie only started exploring the different facets of marine life four years ago and can be credited with the various posters that advertise the Seychelles Sports Fishing Competition (SSFC) Tournaments that have gained increasing popularity over time.

 “Grant Heyer of the SSFC has been a long time protagonist as he had been prompting me to submit some of my work to Marlin Magazine, so I took some time and worked on three pieces– one of which was shortlisted for the Readers Choice Award,” he said.

 Michael Bouchereau-Arnephie’s work titled, “Sailfish mackerel hunt” is currently ranked second on the list of work submitted by 66 talented artists and the winner’s artwork will be published in the Magazines December to January issue that will give the winning artist worldwide exposure to its 382,138 readers worldwide. “Marlin magazine has many subscribers, so I think that the exposure will be good for us as a tourism destination and the big game fishing industry,” he said.

Readers are encouraged to vote on Marlin magazine’s Facebook page by September 30. After that date, the winner will be announced and his or her work will be published in the 2015 issue of Marlin magazine.

Source: Today

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sir James Mancham interview; Part 1


Brigadier Vernon Hunter is the new deputy commissioner of police in the Seychelles police force. He was appointed on September 15, 2014 according to a communiqué received from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Transport. Prior to accepting the position, Brigadier Hunter was the provincial head of the operational response service of the South African police service in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

The communiqué adds that Mr Hunter is a career officer with 42 years of distinguished police service with the South African police service. In his new role, deputy commissioner of police Hunter will report directly to the expected soon to be replaced commissioner of police, Ernest Quatre, to fully support the mission of the Seychelles police force and to drive the professional development processes of the force.

The salary busting appointment of the 59 year South African underlines how bankrupt the local police force is, in terms of leadership despite the much publicised Police Young Leaders Programme. As well as a car and house the new Deputy Commissioners salary will be a king’s ransom; salary an equivalently qualified Seychellois can only dream of and all courtesy of the taxpayers. Vernon Hunter is the third foreigner to be appointed in that position since 2009. Recruiting another foreigner to fill in the position means the Michel administration has no confidence in Seychellois high ranking officers as the control of key position like the in the  Judiciary are maintained.

Friday, September 12, 2014


On August 17th 1982, the people of Seychelles woke up to learn that overnight a group of soldiers had taken control of the radio station at Union Vale and were making demands of the President of the Republic, Mr René. It was one of the worst nightmares the population of Mahe had ever lived through. This would be known as THE ARMY REBELLION OF 1982.

The Terrorists; Albert Rene and James Michel

The mutiny involved 300 soldiers based at the Union Vale army camp. The camp itself was created on 15 November 1979 out of the former Union Vale Prison. However, instead of the soldiers moving in on that date, the cells were emptied to accommodate 100 political detainees who were to be detained without charge or trial over a period of a year on the orders of President Albert Rene. The detainees included DP leader Paul Chow and MPR (Mouvement Pour La Resistance) leader Gerard Hoarau, were guarded by the Seychellois soldiers under the command of Tanzanian soldiers.

According to international press reports eight people were killed during the rebellion including five rebel soldiers, two civilians and one loyal soldier. It is not known how many Tanzanian soldiers were killed, although there are stories of a number of them being killed in a fire fight near Cable and Wireless. One injured rebel leader committed suicide with his revolver on his hospital bed. A week after the incident a reporter for the Times of London reported that a number of mutineers were unaccounted for.

There existed knowledge of only one young rebel soldier who is unaccounted but not to the authorities.  Sub-lieutenant Andrew Pouponneau, who was last seen in handcuffs at the Bel Eau army headquarters in perfect condition, disappeared never to be seen again. When they approached the government, his relatives were told that he was injured and was at the Union Vale barrack receiving treatment. But when they asked to see him they were denied permission.

The surviving rebels were court-martialled, sentenced to prison terms of varying length and dismissed from the army. Their prison was specially constructed on Coetivy Island, a coral island 150 miles from Mahe. The “ring leaders” were released just before the return to multiparty system in 1991 after serving 9 years.

Now new information has come to light.

A local newspaper is reporting that an Ex-Police officer from Anse Aux Pins has revealed to them new information on what really happened to Andrew Pouponneau. The Ex-Police officer claims that “I think this young man was killed. The army can answer that question for you more precisely since he was in their care.” The Ex-Police officer is also willing to testify before a Truth and Reconciliation Committee if the Government ever has courage to set one up.

The former Police Officer said he recalled that Mr Pouponneau gave himself up to the authorities. “He came to the Central Police station to give himself up. He was not arrested or detained. We asked him to wait in the inquiry room whilst the inspector in charge called the Bel Eau army camp to inform them about the development”.

It did not take long for the military jeep to arrive at the police station. “When he left the police station he was handcuffed. His hands were behind his back. He was seated at the back of the jeep together with the Sergeant and the private, whilst the Lieutenant sat on the passenger front seat”. “I remember then talking amongst ourselves, saying the poor man is going to suffer a serious beating” stated the Ex-Police officer.

It was then claimed that Mr Pouponneau had jumped out of the vehicle and escaped when they reached The Riverside junction at National house totally contradicting what the Government were to later tell his relatives.  The Ex-Police officer said there was even an announcement on Radio Sesel asking for anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr Pouponneau to come forward. “That I cannot comprehend nor believe. How can someone with his hands handcuffed behind his back jump from a moving vehicle and manage to get away?” the former police officer asked.

Today, a handful of people in powerful positions can and should shed light on the fate of Mr Pouponneau, if only to his relatives. Their gesture would surely be from the heart, if only so the family of this young man can have closure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seychelles Human Rights abuse; a five year old trauma

Wrongfully accused ; a five-year old trauma

He was arrested, detained for 14 days and prosecuted for robbing his own house. He was then found not guilty by the courts. But five years on, Praslinois Allan Ah-Thion says he still can’t get over the trauma.

Last Saturday, this newspaper published the story of Elvis Labonté, a Praslinois who recounted how he has been stigmatized because of his a wrongful arrest in a rape case. This story was read carefully by another Praslinois going by the names of Allan Ah-Thion. The man, touched by Mr Labonté’s story, contacted this newspaper to recount a similar story that happened to him.

Mr Ah- Thion says he too was wrongfully arrested five years ago at his residence in Anse Kerlan and was accused of robbing his own home. To date, five years later, the man says he has not been able to secure a job and that his reputation has been tarnished.

“On 25 November 2009, my wife fell sick and I took her to the hospital at around 11.30pm,” Mr. Ah-Thion told this newspaper, adding , “we were going to travel the next day and the money was with us so I took it out and placed it in the car.” Upon Mr. Ah-Thion and his wife’s return to their house in the early dawn of morning, they notice that their house and car had been broken into. “A very large sum of money was stolen including my wife’s business money,” he told TODAY.

He said he followed his instinct and went to the then Chief of Police who lived just 150m from his house. The Dog Unit and CID from Mahé were eventually contacted and mobilized but said that to his surprise he was then summoned to the Grand Anse police station. “They did not even inform my wife that they had summoned me but I gave a statement nonetheless,” said Mr. Ah-Thion “and for absolutely no reason, I was arrested and detained in a cell for 14 days.”

On the 15th day, Mr. Ah-Thion was sent to Mahé for the case was to be prosecuted on the grounds that he had “robbed his own property”. The court found him not to be guilty of any crime but the harm, he said, had already been done.

“My reputation was tarnished, I lost my job three days later and to this date I am still traumatized,” he told this newspaper, adding that he had to “go from Praslin to Mahé to attend court and they didn’t even bother getting me a ticket fare to go back home.”

Mr. Ah-Thion made several attempts to remedy his situation, writing to the State House, to the Commissioner of police, to the Chief Justice, to the Human Rights Commission but to no avail.

Five years have elapsed and he still has trouble sleeping and eating. The irony is that the actual thieves were caught the same year and were sentenced, found guilty and are currently still in jail. Mr. Ah-Thion claims that these thieves would never have been caught had identified them because he says, they had been suspects in similar cases before.

“I have on numerous occasions asked I was arrested but the police only wrote to me once to tell me that this was part of the procedure,” he said. Allan Ah- Thion further claims that the Human Rights Commission did not help him because “they are not sufficiently independent, being too closely affiliated to the government”.

“These Human Rights reports that the commission publishes internationally do not reflect the real situation in Seychelles,” he said, frustrated. “I want to challenge anyone who will listen, because I feel hopeless,” Mr. Ah-Thion told TODAY, adding that “the police force must be aware that it is lives of people that they are messing with.”

Meanwhile police spokesperson Jean Toussaint told this newspaper that he was not familiar with the case. “However, I can say that in such situations, the police may arrest an individual under reasonable grounds that he may have been involved in the incident,” he said, adding, “moreover, there are cases whereby people have defrauded themselves.” Mr. Toussaint further said that Mr. Ah-Thion should not despair because “he has not been found guilty thus he maintains a clean record.”

Indeed, prospective employers request for a “character certificate”, which according to Mr. Toussaint will not reflect Mr. Ah-Thion’s arrest. “There are numerous reasons for this incident,” further claimed Mr. Toussaint who also adds that Allan Ah-Thion “may have been set up for all we know, but the best thing would be for him to seek legal advice.”


Thursday, September 4, 2014

James Michel’s failed War on Drugs in Seychelles

James Michel has been President for over 10 years now and it is clear his draconian strategy of his war on drugs has completely failed; our youth are being decimated and more drugs are entering our shores than ever. We recently heard stories of people been poisoned by these drug which have also included a number of foreigners. A new approach must be considered before it is too late.

In 2011 the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a most important and ground breaking of reports that all nations including Seychelles must take a serious and closer look at. The purpose of the Global Commission on Drug Policy was to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. The commissioners included Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Paul Volcker, Javier Solana and many other world renowned figures as well as the best experts and advisers such as Dr Alex Wodak.

The goals were to review the basic assumptions, effectiveness and consequences of the ‘war on drugs’ approach. Evaluate the risks and benefits of different national responses to the drug problem. Develop actionable, evidence-based recommendations for constructive legal and policy reform. The executive summary and recommendations are reproduced in full below.

The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs; fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed. Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.

Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:

End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence. Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation that can accomplish these objectives and provide models for others. Offer health and treatment services to those in need. Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available, including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada. Implement syringe access and other harm reduction measures that have proven effective in reducing transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections as well as fatal overdoses. Respect the human rights of people who use drugs. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, Global Commission on Drug Policy forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse – that contravene human rights standards and norms or that remove the right to self-determination. Apply much the same principles and policies stated above to people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. Many are themselves victims of violence and intimidation or are drug dependent. Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations. There appears to be almost no limit to the number of people willing to engage in such activities to better their lives, provide for their families, or otherwise escape poverty. Drug control resources are better directed elsewhere. Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences. The most successful prevention efforts may be those targeted at specific at-risk groups.

Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reach while prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security. Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights – and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation. Review the scheduling of drugs that has resulted in obvious anomalies like the flawed categorization of cannabis, coca leaf and MDMA. Ensure that the international conventions are interpreted and/or revised to accommodate robust experimentation with harm reduction, decriminalization and legal regulatory policies. Break the taboo on debate and reform.

The time for action is now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Human Rights abuse in Seychelles

Stigmatized for life

Elvis Labonté was arrested nearly six months ago on Praslin on suspicion of rape. Yet after spending 48 hours in police custody, the man was released and no charge pressed. But the damage had already been done: he lost his job and he is stigmatised on Praslin where he lives. And in a poignant reversal of roles, he has been chasing the police for the past months so that he can clear his name but the police are dodging him. He even went to the Human Rights Commission, in vain.

The rape was allegedly committed on 1 January of this year. Elvis Labonté, a 48 year old resident of Baie St Anne Praslin says that his arrest was completely arbitrary and unjust. He was detained on Praslin, then Mahé for 48 hours altogether and then released without so much as an explanation or a return ticket home. He avers that he is stigmatized by the community over the whole incident and even lost his job as a result of the accusation.

“It was on 17 March of this year that five police officers came and arrested me at my place of work,” a desperate Elvis Labonté told this newspaper. “They charged me with rape and I was held for 24 hours on Praslin after which they sent me to Mahé. I was then held for another 24 hours before being subjected to a DNA test which involved a cheek swab. I and the other detainees were not even given food or water until they released me the next day”, he recounted.

Worse, he was released without a return ticket to Praslin and he had to pay for his own way home. Even more telling, Mr Labonté was not charged by the police, which suggests that they realised they had the wrong suspect.

But the consolation was bitter. For things were not as before when he reached home. Upon his return to Praslin, Mr Labonté was informed by his employer that his services were no longer required and that he was declared “persona non grata” at the tourism establishment where he worked in Côte d’Or as a maintenance handyman.

“This made things worse as I was a casual worker and my employer could dismiss me after hearing these allegations,” the man says. Elvis Labonté managed to find another job but admits that his woes did not end there. “I feel stigmatized by the community because people now see me as a rapist despite the fact that I have repeatedly claimed my innocence and for nearly six months I have tried to contact the police and the officer in charge of the case– but to no avail. I just can’t seem to get in touch with them and their excuses have not gotten me anywhere. I turned to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) with the hope of obtaining some justice but it was the same story from them. They just kept procrastinating and I’m still in the dark. I feel violated and yet can’t even turn to the organization that is supposed to be there to defend my rights,” the frustrated man said.

 Mr Labonté, who is also a single father to a five year old girl told TODAY that, “the police even tried to run tests on my child but I refused since they were not even willing to provide a certificate as proof of the procedure. Her schoolteacher also refused, given that it would be a traumatic experience to the child”, he said adding that the police has never been able to come up with “any concrete evidence that proves any culpability on my part. I am appalled by the way the police handled this situation. They treated me like I was guilty from day one and showed no interest in hearing my side of the story – despite me telling them that I was at home with my daughter when the incident allegedly happened. The lack of support and professionalism from the HRC has also left a bitter taste in my mouth as I had nowhere else to turn to,” he lamented.

As a last resort, Mr Labonté contacted TODAY to tell his story. This newspaper in turn, spoke to the police spokesperson Jean Toussaint who said he wasn’t aware of the case. Mr Toussaint said however that Elvis Labonté should contact the unit that was responsible for investigating such cases.

The officer we spoke to at the Family Squad informed us that they were not at liberty to disclose information of that nature to the press. They added that Mr Labonté could come at the central police station to speak to the officer concerned, if he so wanted. This, for Elvis Labonté, is a case of too little too late. He told this newspaper that “it’s too late now. I have been after them for almost six months and now they suddenly want me to come and see them. Can you believe the audacity?”

Source: Today

Monday, September 1, 2014

Seychelles Police State

At the wrong place, at the wrong time?

A woman says the police arrested her and seized her phone without good reason before stripping her naked at the police station.

A distraught woman contacted this newspaper on Wednesday to complain about an incident that happened to her last Friday at Mont Fleuri. She says she had stepped out of her workplace to make a phone call to her child when two police officers arrested her. They seized her cellphone and ID card and she still had not gotten them back by the time she contacted this newspaper.

“For no reason, they took my phone and told me to go with them to the police station,” the woman who requested anonymity told this newspaper. The incident, she said, happened at around 2pm in Mont Fleuri when the two officers arrested her under suspicion that she was “warning criminals that the police were on their way”. The woman recounted that she later found out that there had been stolen army weapons and the police were pursuing suspects who they believed were at Mont Fleuri.

The woman was then taken to the police station where she said she was “questioned like a criminal” adding that “I have never been involved in any illegal activity.” She further told us that a female officer stripped her naked and searched her at the Mont Fleuri police station. After that, her phone and ID card were seized and they still haven’t been returned to her.

“This is normal procedure,” police spokesperson Jean Toussaint told TODAY. He added that “her ID card will surely be returned to her very soon but the phone will remain with the police until all suspicions have been cleared.” He also said that during such investigations, strict formalities were followed which would explain why the phone was seized. “Eventually the phone will be returned because it is her property,” said Mr. Toussaint. He nonetheless said that that there was no investigation into stolen army weapons contrarily to what the woman claimed. It is unknown at this point why the police arrested the woman and seized her phone.

With regards to the way the police treated the woman, Jean Toussaint says “all this is part of procedure.” The woman nonetheless said that she was still in “a state of shock”.