The 1993 Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles contains a Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms.Chapter III, Part I, 1993 Constitution.The rights guaranteed include the right to life,S. 15(1) 1993 Constitution.to be treated with dignity and not to be subjected to torture or other inhumane treatment,S. 16(1), 1993 Constitution.and the rights to liberty and security of the person.S. 18(1), 1993 Constitution.
Under Clause 23(1), every person has a right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The right may be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society:
(a) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;
(c) for the protection of the right and freedoms of other persons,
(d) for imposition of restrictions ... on persons who are not citizens of Seychelles.
The Police Force of Seychelles has the primary responsibility to maintain law and order in, and preserve the internal security of, the Seychelles and to prevent and detect crime.S. 161(a), 1993 Constitution.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||Yes|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights||State Party|
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||Signatory|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||N/A|
|Malabo Protocol on Amendments to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Not party|
Police Use of Force
According to the 1959 Police Force Act, the Police Force shall be employed in the Seychelles for the maintenance of law and order, the preservation of peace, the prevention and detection of crime, and the apprehension of offenders.S. 6, 1959 Police Force Act.The 1955 Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that if a police officer is arresting a suspect and “If such person forcibly resists the endeavour to arrest him, or attempts to evade the arrest, such police officer or other person may use all means necessary to effect the arrest”. It is further stated that “nothing in this section contained shall be deemed to justify the use of greater force than was reasonable in the particular circumstances in which it was employed, or was necessary for the apprehension of the offender”.S. 10(2), 1955 Criminal Procedure Code.Once arrested, a person "shall not be subjected to more restraint than is necessary to prevent his escape.”S. 13, 1955 Criminal Procedure Code.
The use of firearms by the police is specifically regulated Section 33 of the 1959 Police Force Act, which states that:
(1) Any police officer may use any firearms which have been issued to him against
(a) any person in lawful custody charged with or convicted of a felony when such person is escaping or attempting to escape;
(b) any person who by force rescues or attempts to rescue any other person from lawful custody;
(c) any person who by force prevents or attempts to prevent the lawful arrest of himself or of any other person: …
And provided further that the use of firearms under this subsection shall as far as possible be to disable and not to kill.S. 33(1), 1959 Police Force Act.
These provisions do not comply with international law, which restricts police use of firearms for law enforcement purposes only where there is either an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a proximate and grave threat to life.
Use of Force in Custodial Settings
According to the 1991 Prisons Act, a prison officer may use force on a prisoner when such a prisoner is escaping or attempting to escape.S. 8(1)(a), 1991 Prisons Act.The officer may continue to use the weapons as long as an escape attempt continues,S. 8(1)(b), 1991 Prisons Act.or where an inmate is violent towards any prison officer or other person.S. 8(1)(c), 1991 Prisons Act.
A prison officer may not use a weapon against a prisoner unless he has reasonable grounds to believe that he cannot otherwise prevent the escape of the prisoner or unless he has given a warning to the prisoner that he is about to use the weapons against him.S. 8(2), 1991 Prisons Act.He must also have reasonable grounds to believe that the prison officer or other person is in mortal danger or that other grievous bodily harm is likely to be caused to the prison officer or other person.S. 8(3), 1991 Prisons Act.The use of weapons shall be, as far as possible, to overpower and not to kill.S. 8(5), 1991 Prisons Act.
There are two external mechanisms for police oversight in the Seychelles.
The Ombudsman was created under Section 143(1) of the Constitution. The Ombudsman has the power to investigate actions taken by any public officer. This includes “where the Ombudsman receives a complaint from a person or body alleging that the complainant has suffered a violation of the complainant’s fundamental rights or freedoms under the Charter, or an injustice, in consequence of a fault in the administration of a public authority or has been treated harshly or oppressively by the authority or the President, Vice-President or a Minister, officer or member of the authority in the exercise of the administrative functions of the authority.”S. 43(2)(a), 1993 Constitution.
The Seychelles Human Rights Commission was mewly established in March 2019 under the terms of Seychelles Human Rights Act 2018. It is given wide investigatory powers where human rights violations are alleged. The National Human Rights Commission established under the 2009 Protection of Human Rights Act was abolished.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In the absence of a report by the Seychelles on its implementation of the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in 2015 the Human Rights Committee called on the Seychelles to "ensure that allegations of abuse of the 24-hour detention period by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are held accountable, and that the victims are adequately compensated."Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Seychelles, UN doc. CCPR/C/SYC/CO/1, 3 June 2015, para. 16.
In 2018, the Committee against Torture expressed their concern "that the 24-hour rule of bringing detained persons before a court is not always respected and that persons may be held by police without charges for up to 14 days".Committee against Torture, Concluding Observations on Seychelles, UN doc. CAT/C/SYC/CO/1, 28 September 2018, para. 16.