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Commonwealth leaders urged to intervene in Seychelles showtrial

  • With the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting taking place in Kigali, the team representing defendants issued a formal appeal to Commonwealth leaders to acknowledge the gross neglect of the defendants’ human rights and a total disregard for the rule of law in the Seychelles.

The team representing some of the individuals held in prison for over 200 days in the Seychelles has formally appealed to organisers and participants of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda to bring to their attention the treatment of those detained and the lack of separation of powers in Seychelles.

On Tuesday – the day after the opening of CHOGM – the team has issued an urgent call to action days after the Seychelles government changed the country’s laws to enable the continued prosecution of individuals connected to the country’s previous regime. The biennial summit meeting of the leaders from all Commonwealth nations is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda and has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. The meeting of Commonwealth leaders is attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.

CHOGM will provide an opportunity for the heads of government to reaffirm their common values and agree actions to improve the lives of their citizens. The letters issued to Commonwealth leaders have highlighted that the Seychelles Government has repeatedly breached the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, 1991, which is a fundamental principle shared by Commonwealth states. The Declaration states: “We believe in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens…, and in the individual’s inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives.

Last month the government of Seychelles introduced ex post facto legislative amendment of corruption laws to give the prosecution sweeping and overarching new powers. This came after it had emerged that the defendants had been held for over 6 months without lawful basis and that prosecutors had no basis upon which to charge them.

By writing to the Secretary-General, the defence team in the Seychelles case hope to draw international attention to the ongoing miscarriage of justice and blatant disregard for rule of law. They hope to encourage the Commonwealth states at CHOGM to hold other nations accountable to the organisation’s core principles.