In the National Assembly New law to ease registration of associations, modernise and bring transparency in operations |08 April 2022
The law that guides and regulates the registration, operations, functions dealings of the numerous associations in the country will now be replaced by a more modern and relevant one that takes into consideration best practices and address modern day challenges.
This is now that the National Assembly has voted 18 votes for, none against with seven abstentions after a daylong of deliberations on Wednesday before approving the Associations Registration and Regulation Bill, 2022.
When presenting the draft of the proposed law for Assembly members’ consideration and approval, Vice President Ahmed Afif noted that its aim is to modernise the structure in the Office of the Registrar for Associations, the legal framework for associations by adopting existing modern practices.
The new proposed law aims to introduce certain legal mechanisms that will strengthen existing authority for the registrar of associations and that will also help support other authorities that rely on the registrar of associations.
“Exercises carried out by the Office of the Registrar revealed that there are associations which for many years have been breaching the law ignoring notices served on them by the Office of the Registrar. The number of associations concerned is significant but during the past few years efforts have been stepped up to try and address the situation and this includes legal actions against some of them. But the lack of certain legal components in the current law makes it difficult for the Office of the Registrar to obtain the expected results,” VP Afif explained.
He went on to remind members of the National Assembly that the Assembly in November last year approved a Bill which gave associations a deadline to submit their legal documents without any penalties but the deadline expires on July 31, 2022. He said the aim was to try and address the situation and encourage the associations to regularise their status in the hope that this year, the Office of the Registrar would have a revised lists of only serious, active and committed associations.
“It is expected that the new law being proposed will introduce modern practices like the use of technology, will bring more transparency and clarity in the structure of the Office of the Registrar and the management of associations, support efforts to put in place transparent practices and push for associations to be more responsible,” VP Afif pointed out, noting that the existing law dating back many years is not necessarily relevant enough to address the present day realities.
He noted that the new law is expected to make it easier to register an association giving applicants the option to register on an electronic platform and the Office of the Registrar together with the department of information communication technology (DICT) have already developed an electronic platform for registration purposes. But he said its implementation depends on the necessary legal regulations to become operational.
Among other matters, the new law provides for the Office of the Registrar to keep a register of all associations registered under the law with all their necessary details as well as provide for members of the public to have access to the register upon payment of a fee.
“At present the Office of the Registrar receives a lot of complaints from members of the public as well as members of certain associations themselves because they face a lot of difficulties and different challenges when conducting transactions with these associations. So the new law will bring more transparency in the dealings and mode of operations of these associations and protect the interests of all parties conducting business with any of them,” VP Afif highlighted.
The new law also provides among different other matters for all registered associations to have a bank account as well as for all associations not to be used for illegal activities like fraud, money laundering and terrorism financing.
Furthermore, the Bill introduces provisions regarding appeals, to allow persons aggrieved with the decisions, orders, directions or determinations of the registrar, an avenue for them to seek redress from the courts of law. This process is not only necessary for business but also good for democracy and best practice. Finally, the Bill introduces provisions empowering the registrar, upon request by any person, to issue a certificate of standing for any registered association in Seychelles. The certificate is expected to serve as an important due diligence document for interested parties.