Cabinet meeting |26 May 2023
Government renews commitment to fighting child abuse
By Sunny Esparon
The cabinet of ministers has expressed deep sadness over the death of a three-year-old girl in tragic circumstances on Tuesday, May 16 and the government has renewed its commitment to fighting child abuse.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet press briefing yesterday morning at State House, Vice- President Ahmed Afif stated that society and legal framework are there to protect children from any form of abuse. “Our engagement is to make sure that the legal framework and the institutions that form around the legal framework function with maximum efficiency,” he stated.
He said that government will take into consideration additional points, under the legal framework, if the need arises. “Our priority is to protect the children.”
In addition, the vice-president said the authorities need to come up with solutions in situations where parents do not give consent for an investigation into an alleged abuse, when they are the suspected perpetrators of the alleged abuse.
He said this should not be an obstacle for the government or the country to protect the children.
“Otherwise we will get a situation where parents will just abuse their children and nothing will happen because they will not give consent to the investigation,” he said.
When there is a negligent parent involved, VP Afif firmly stated that the law itself is very serious on this matter. However, when it comes to the practicality of the matter, there are certain problems that arise. These include non-compliance to dates set for court appearances, which leads to several rescheduling and by then, the victims are reluctant to come forward or the parents believe that exposing the child to the court system will be another traumatic situation.
“It is very complicated and it is not necessarily that they do not want to come forward, but they take into account the social and psychological aspects.”
Furthermore, the vice-president stated that if things at the Attorney General are not moving fast enough, the government will try and resolve these issues and if a lawyer does not turn up in court, “we have to be stricter in these situations”.
He added they will also ensure the cases are brought to the judiciary at a faster pace. “On our side, I can assure everyone that we work very close with the Attorney General, the judiciary maintains its independence, but we work closely with them to see how to make these things move faster.”
In its sitting on Wednesday, cabinet also approved the ratification of the International Labour Organisations Domestic Workers Convention (# 189). The aim of the convention is to improve the working and living conditions of domestic workers worldwide. In addition, cabinet also approved for the submission of the 20 instruments adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from 2001 to 2019, to the National Assembly for their information.
As a member of the ILO, Seychelles must adhere to the conventions, showing its commitment towards protecting workers’ rights.
“In Seychelles, under the constitution, Article 64(4), if a country does not sign a convention, it makes it invalid,” he explained. The convention was passed in 2011 in Seychelles but never underwent the ratification process by the National Assembly.
“This is why that even though it is 12 years later, we decided that if we signed a convention we need to pass it in front of the National Assembly,” explained Mr Afif.
According to the vice-president, the ratification shows Seychelles’ clear commitment to other countries, that it believes in the ILO values. Workers’ rights in Seychelles are already guaranteed under the ‘Employment Act’, which ensures they work in a secure and hygienic place, and they are protected against any forms of abuse, such as violence, harassment. It also ensures that the person working is of the required minimum age of 18 and that the minimum wage is being paid.
In terms of those under Gainful Occupation Permit, who are staying in someone else’s house, the place needs to be convenient, and there should be a signed contract. In addition, the immigrant needs to keep their identity card and passport on them at all times.
There also needs to be employee rights such as sick leave and work leave that is guaranteed. “They are also entitled to joining any organisations regarding employee rights such as a union and if there is a case they want to bring in front of the court or the justice system, they have the right to do so.”
At its meeting on Wednesday, cabinet also expressed its condolences to the family of former First Lady, Geva Rene, following her passing. Cabinet joined in national prayers for Archbishop Emeritus French Chang Him who is admitted to the Seychelles Hospital. In addition, they commended the Seychelles ARSU Volleyball club for securing 9th overall position in the 2023 CAVB African Volleyball Champions held in Tunisia and congratulated Seychellois participants who won medals in the 2023 African weightlifting championship in Tunisia and bodybuilding championship held in South Africa.