Handover of TRNUC’s final report to President Ramkalawan |03 April 2023
Association of Victims hopes that justice will finally prevail
March 31, 2023 is a milestone in the history of the democratic Republic of Seychelles, a signatory to the United Nations Human Rights Convention. After nearly five years of existence, the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC), headed by the highly respected international lawyer, Gabriel McIntyre, has handed over its final report and its recommendations to the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan.
This final report has been keenly awaited by the victims of the State’s abuse of power which primarily took place during the One Party State era and even beyond. The publication of the final report is also keenly awaited by many international human rights organisations and many governments. After an arduous three years of publicly reliving the nightmares of their abuse at the hands of the State, victims hope that they will finally get justice and be rightfully compensated for their ordeal since the Coup D’état of June 5, 1977.
It is to be reminded that the abuse of State’s power was widespread and comprised, but not limited to:
• Unlawful detention without legal representation;
• Forced exile and deportation to foreign countries;
• Murder, assassinations and disappearances;
• Illegal land and homes acquisitions;
• Rape, torture, beatings and political harassment;
• Denial of further education and employment;
• Intimidation and generally rampant abuse of power by the military, the police and senior government officials at all levels.
TRNUC was constituted under an Act of Parliament (NA) in September 2018 and given the Powers and the Rights of a Supreme Court. It was unanimously approved by all members of the National Assembly and in their wisdom, the National Assembly members wrote into the Law that compensation must be paid to the victims. Now that this body, equivalent to the Supreme Court, has reported its facts and made its recommendations, we urge the government on behalf of the State to accept these recommendations in full. The President in his speech after accepting the report said he will not wait 30 days to make this report public, he will make it public that same day (March 31, 2023) and he will send it to the National Assembly that same day (March 31, 2023). This is an indication that this President who was the instigator of this process is serious in getting the matter resolved once and for all.
Any further delay will just prolong the suffering of the victims and foster further divisions and ill feelings in our nation. Reconciliation will only come when justice has been delivered to the victims and a measure of forgiveness will eventually follow. Forgiveness is not automatic; it carries its own requirements to be fulfilled first.
These crimes were committed by state employees under the direction of the government in power at the time which means that the International law of Odious Debt applies and cannot be abrogated and the government must bear the full vicarious liabilities as a consequence.
The TRNUC Association of Victims (AOV) also recognises that the current cohort of honourable members of the opposition had nothing to do with those abuses which were perpetrated by their predecessors. Unfortunately through their Party affiliations, they have inherited a consequence of history. We would therefore welcome their positive contributions to help close this unfortunate chapter in the history of our beloved country.
We are grateful to his Excellency President Wavel Ramkalawan for championing the setting up of TRNUC and for being a champion of human rights during his time in opposition. We trust his Excellency will now see through the successful completion of TRNUC process and alleviate any further suffering of the victims. This is his opportunity to show the world that he is man of his words and a true champion of human rights.
We also welcome the President's positive statement on the issue of State Liability towards victims, made during his recent State-of-the-nation address in the National Assembly. We, the victims take courage from his statement and infer from that they will implement these recommendations and authorise the disbursement of due compensations with minimum delay. The level of compensations was not plucked out of the air; it was worked out by experts with knowledge and experience in these matters.
We are also grateful to former President Danny Faure for showing Statesmanship and for his courage in accepting to set up TRNUC while he was the President of the Republic of Seychelles, knowing full well that the findings could have been harmful to his political survival yet he had the courage to force this process forward and he even went as far as personally meeting with some victims’ relatives during his presidency.
As representatives of the victims, our Association remains resolute in our determination to see justice prevails. We also stand as a willing partner to the government, and to that end we will seek to have meetings with the President and all political leaders to put the views of our members forward and to listen to what the leaders have to say.
On behalf of the victims, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all members of the TRNUC and their staff for all their hard work which has been carried out under difficult circumstances. There were forces at work in some quarters aimed at making sure this process did not succeed but the team at TRNUC forged forward and they have succeeded where many would not have done so.
We are conscious of the fact that the end of this TRNUC team does not mean the end of the process. The TRNUC law continues to be effective until it is removed from statute. There is still a lot of work to be done with regard to all the evidence that has been collected not to mention the setting up of a body to undertake timely disbursement of compensations, the creation of an archive and monument, inter alia. To this end we urge President Wavel Ramkalawan not to delay in announcing a follow up team to implement the recommendations of the TRNUC.
The next team will also be responsible for the setting up of a public museum where both written and video evidence collected by TRNUC will be available to the public for viewing.
Let this be a lesson to the next generation that abuse of human rights can never again have a legitimate place in our society and beloved country.
Barry Laine FCIM, FInst SMM, MCMI, MBSCH
TRNUC Association of Victims