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National Assembly

In the National Assembly |08 July 2022

Members approve for the creation of a Law Commission


Assembly members have this week voted to approve the creation of a Law Commission which would be responsible to review the laws of Seychelles with the aim of proposing legislative amendments to the government and the National Assembly.

Vice-President Ahmed Afif presented a draft of the commission through the Law Commission Bill 2022 during the National Assembly sitting on Wednesday.

In his presentation VP Afif explained that the principal role of the Commission would be to;

- revise and reform the laws, to conduct legislative scrutiny. It will also have the responsibility to prepare and publish Seychelles law reports which comprise of important judgments delivered by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

The Commission will not have the power to change the conjunctives and disjunctives of any written law or remove any schedule, maps, photos, drawings, diagrams or any objects from a written law or simplify any sentence.

VP Afif noted that in the future when the law would be revised and the Commission had formulated an opinion that a sentence in a piece of legislation should be shorter and simpler, the Commission would have to propose an amendment which would have to be approved by the National Assembly.

“It is for this reason that we are proposing the Law Commission Bill. Furthermore we all know that law revision will contribute to make legislations more accessible and clear,” VP Afif remarked.

He noted that for many years there have been requests from judges, lawyers, civil society and the public sector to establish a commission to carry out reforms and revise the laws of Seychelles. “The government has responded to the requests and has agreed for the Commission to be a consultative or an advisory body for the republic which would revise the laws of Seychelles,” VP Afif pointed out.

The Commission will recommend for new legislations and amendments to existing laws.

The Commission will also carry out public consultations and thorough research on the different laws with the aim of coming up with solutions to challenges that society is facing and to ensure that Seychelles remains updated on legislative developments in the country.

“The country is facing different social, financial and environmental problems that people want to see addressed through legislative reforms. But some of these reforms are controversial, some are politically sensitive, complicated while some need expert and specialised knowledge.

Some of these issues are related to financial technology, use of cannabis, same sex marriage, LGBTI rights, abortion, climate change, rights of people with disabilities… the LDS promised in its manifesto that there was the need of a specialised and independent entity which would study, analyse and consider the different legal frameworks that would have to be put in place,” VP Afif highlighted.

He further explained that the Commission will address and solve some of these problems and will propose objective and analytical solutions.

The Commission will have the power to examine and work on a law or proposed law on a subject that a member of the public, an MNA, a ministry, a member of the judiciary or any government agency can make.

Additionally the Commission can decide and proposed the law which it intends to work on.

The work of the Commission will have to be submitted to the cabinet of ministers and the President for approval before it is presented to the National Assembly.

The Commission will also engage in pre and post legislative scrutiny.

VP Afif noted that legislative scrutiny is normally carried out by members of the National Assembly and this is through the Bills Committee but there is a need for Assembly members to get more support in the post legislative scrutiny process.

The Commission will be administered by commissioners who will comprise the attorney general, retired judges, lawyers who will consult members of the public and key partners on important propositions to be made by the Commission. Judges will only be appointed on the Commission for their expertise.

Debate on the proposed Commission was intense with LDS MNAs in general welcoming the proposed commission noting that the public consultation aspect is important for democracy as it will encourage public participation and interest and the laws have to remain relevant to the present time and in order for that to happen revisions are necessary.

A component that LDS MNA John Hoareau did not agree with is the pre legislative scrutiny which he said is the role of the Assembly under the Constitution.

He said the solution is not to remove this role but to boost the capacity of the Assembly so it can deliver to a higher standard.

He has also called for the capacity building of the drafting unit of the attorney general’s chamber to reduce the number of drafting mistakes.

For his part MNA Bernard Georges said he perfectly agrees with the proposition to have the Commission and its composition which include judges, something he says he has always been calling for. With regard to law reforms and revision he noted that this has been in piece meal forms in the past and it is important to have comprehensive and continuous revisions.

For his part LDS MNA Gervais Henrie noted that a Law Commission is a modern entity and it is in line with modern and standard international practices.

MNA for the minority party Wallace Cosgrow said the Commission will dilute the role of the Assembly under the Constitution and he has called for the Assembly to boost its own capacity or proposed to the government to boost the capacity of this institution so it can go into drafting of laws and not create a commission to take over its responsibilities, a point that other MNAs of his party supported and strongly argued for.

“As it is, the Assembly’s liberty of expression is being removed. While I recognise that law commissions exist in many countries, I feel that the fact that we are denying the Assembly of its right under the Constitution instead of building its capacity to raise its standard, I believe the way we are doing things is a move in the wrong direction and I wish that the government will understand our position,” MNA Cosgrow pointed out.   

Debate on the proposed commission continued until late afternoon through discussions in committee stage before MNAs voted 16 for six against while two members abstained.


Marie-Anne Lepathy

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