Assembly approves another three-month extension for TRNUC to complete final report |14 December 2022
TheTruth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) has asked the government for another three-month extension to finalise its final report before submitting it to the President and yesterday the National Assembly approved the TRNUC (Amendment) (no.2) Bill, 2022 to that effect.
This was after 18 MNAs voted for, no one voted against and nine abstained on the general merit of the Bill but the debate in committee stage and the ensuing vote which was unanimous after all LDS members voted for the TRNUC request, was carried out without opposition members who walked out with their leader Hon. Sebastien Pillay after a heated argument with Speaker Roger Mancienne ended with the latter asking him to leave the House.
Minister Jean François Ferrari, in his capacity as Designated Minister, presented the Bill for Assembly members’ consideration and approval.
Also present to answer MNAs’ questions and clarifications was TRNUC commissioner Dr Marie Therese Purvis as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade and the Attorney General’s Office.
In his presentation of the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) (Amendment) (no.2) Bill, 2022 Minister Ferrari noted that on September 14 this year the National Assembly debated and approved the TRNUC Amendment Bill 2022 which extended the commission’s mandate until December 31, 2022 the latest.
Following this extension, the TRNUC continued its work to finalise its final report that it will present to the President in accordance with its laws.
Minster Ferrari told Assembly members that recently the TRNUC commissioners informed the government of the need for the commission’s mandate to be extended yet again to allow it time to finalise its final report.
Following discussions, a three-month extension was agreed on by the TRNUC starting after December 31, 2022.
“The government has considered and agreed to the commission’s request which it deems necessary for it to complete its final report. Given this new extension, the TRNUC is expected to complete and submit its final report to the government by the end of March 2023 the latest,” Minister Ferrari noted.
He went on to point out that with this further extension, the contract of the commissioners will also be extended up to March 31, 2023.
In the event that the TRNUC completes and submits its final report before the mentioned date, Minister Ferrari said its mandate will end when the report is submitted as per the TRNUC laws.
“This Bill is proof of the government’s and the people of Seychelles’ commitment to ensure that the TRNUC can complete its work as per all legal requirements,” Minister remarked.
During the debate that ensued opposition MNAs raised several points relating to the mandate and the work being carried out by the TRNUC. These included ; the true amount of work that remains to be completed as the commission conducted the last hearing in July this year, why the request for an extension was not mentioned in the budget address, need for an assurance that the report will really be completed in the next three months, what has caused the delay, the need for more transparency even though they admit that the work of the TRNUC has been a long, complicated but an important process, the amount of money the commission is asking to complete the report, that the commission needs to deliver on its mandate and not request a second extension among several other points.
For their part some LDS MNAs expressed regret and disappointment that the TRNUC has not completed the work as per its mandate and the previous extension granted but they commended the commission for what it has accomplished in its effort to bring closure to many families.
They said they would support the TRNUC all the way in its effort to bring out the truth to reconcile and unite the nation and bring peace and closure to many families.
They have called on government to give all the necessary resources to the commission so it can complete its work because the “TRNUC is a priority to heal Seychelles”, the leader of government business Hon. Bernard Georges stated.
He added that the opposition’s arguments do not hold because the TRNUC when it started nobody, even the commission itself, did not know the magnitude of what was to be revealed. He said the final report will be very important as it will be used as a point of reference in the future.
Before he went on to clarify the different points raised by the MNAs, Minister Ferrari also expressed his disappointment that the TRNUC has not managed to complete its work on time noting that he is one who firmly believes that justice delayed is justice denied and he shared the disappointment of many Seychellois out there who wished the commission had completed the work in the first extension. But he also admitted that the work the commission started in 2018 is long and complex and the commission has had to deal with new things that come up almost every day.
Meanwhile Minister Ferrari informed MNAs that there is no guarantee that the work will be completed in the three-month extension but that he trusts the commissioners and believe in their competence to deliver on the work before then.
During the debate that prolonged into the committee stage, TRNUC commissioner Dr Purvis provided MNAs with more clarifications and answers to their questions together with Astride Tamatave, the deputy comptroller from the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade who provided them with all the financial and budgetary aspects of the requested extension.