Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube

National Assembly

National Assembly approves amendment to Criminal Procedure Code Bill 2023 |24 May 2023

The National Assembly has approved the bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Code 2023, changing the six months prison sentence served by convicts who do not pay their fines ordered by courts, to two years prison sentence.

Eighteen members from the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa caucus voted in favour of the bill presented by Vice-President Ahmed Afif, while eight from the United Seychelles party voted against, with no abstention.

When presenting the bill, Vice-President Afif said that it was a small amendment where they were changing two words from the Criminal Procedure Code in reference to a six-month prison sentence to a two-year prison sentence.

When explaining the raison d’être of the amendment, Vice-President Afif said that all courts in the country can impose fines on convicts. However, the convicts could opt for a prison sentence instead of paying the fines.  Under the existing law, (section 295 (1), the judge can order that the convict be imprisoned for not more than six months.

The vice-president said the law dates back to 1964 and at the time the fines were relatively low compared to today’s fines.

“With time many new offences have been created under different laws and many of those offences incur very high fines,” he explained, citing several examples including the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016 which can incur a fine of up to a million rupees and the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act 2014, with fines of up to R800,000. Another one was the Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism Act 2020, where a person can be fined up to R5 million and the Fisheries Act which garners a R3 million fine.

“Despite all these changes in fines, the six-month prison term remains as is. This means that when a court orders a convict to pay a huge sum in fine, some convicts refuse to pay and prefer to do the six months’ term in prison,” said VP Afif, stating that this was observed recently in drug and human trafficking cases as well as in some cases of illegal fishing.

The three members of the Linyon Demokratik Sesel caucus who intervened on the bill talked about its merit with Hon. Bernard Georges stating that the amendment would cover all default fines under Seychelles’ laws, and it was required since amendments had been carried out over the years, increasing fines under several laws.

For Hon. Satya Naidu, the elected member for St Louis, the amendment would prevent criminals from seeing the six-month prison sentence as more profitable than the huge fines they were getting.

He said it would also be a way to instill discipline into people who were disrespecting the laws, knowing that they would now serve a longer time if they default on their fines.

For their part, the United Seychelles’ members were against the bill with Hon. Sebastien Pillay questioning its intention while Hon. Wallace Cosgrow said he was apprehensive towards some amendments being presented by the executive as he felt that although they seemed simple, they could have bigger repercussions in the future.

Hon Cosgrow also questioned the executive’s motive for bringing the bill at a time he said there were more pressing issues that needed to be catered by other laws.

When wrapping up the debate, Vice-President Afif reminded the National Assembly that the state loses when a convict fails to pay the fine and opts for the prison sentence.

“We do not tell them to commit crime and we do not encourage that. We do not tell them not to pay their fine. If you do not want to go to prison, simply pay your fine. We are a country where we have rule of law,” said Mr Afif.

It should be noted that once it approved the bill, the National Assembly did not go into committee stage, since there were no amendments to be made in the bill.


Patsy Canaya

More news