Judiciary holds meeting with President Wavel Ramkalawan |06 December 2023
Following a request from the Judiciary for a meeting, in his capacity as Head of State, President Wavel Ramkalawan chaired a meeting yesterday morning at State House to listen to their concerns.
The meeting follows a request made by the Judiciary with a proposed agenda of various administrative subjects and key challenges they feel are impeding the work of their institution.
Key officials from government, including the secretary of state for Finance, Patrick Payet; Comptroller General from the Financial Planning and Control Division, Astrid Tamatave; and the Chief of Protocol from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Terry Romain, were also present.
When welcoming them to State House yesterday morning, the President on behalf of the country conveyed appreciation to all members of the Judiciary for their hard work and dedication for the advancement of the Judiciary in Seychelles.
“In respecting the continued independence of the Judiciary, this open dialogue today to discuss and address pertinent matters was indeed necessary to ensure this branch of government remains effective in delivering justice to our citizens in a swift manner without the interference of anyone,” said the President.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Rony Govinden, expressed appreciation that the Head of State responded positively to their request for an open dialogue to discuss their concerns.
“This is the first time the Judiciary encompassing Judges from the Court of Appeal, from the Supreme Court and the Magistrate’s Court is meeting the President as the Chief of State just as stipulated in Article 66 – 2 of our Constitution. It is the role of the President to ensure the effective functioning of the Constitution. While legal cases were not deliberated upon, the dialogue primarily centered on pertinent issues and the relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive,” shared CJ Govinden.
Judiciary is still working impartially and independently as stated in the Constitution. “We have issues such as not enough budget. Challenges, such as insufficient budgetary allocations were discussed during the meeting. Despite being an independent institution, our financial resources are derived from the government and sanctioned by the National Assembly. We presented our requirements, including urgent projects like the renovation of our facilities. Consequently, a decision was reached to initiate a dialogue with the Ministry of Finance starting next year for enhanced collaboration.”
Addressing the issue of lack of staff and the appointment of a Chief Magistrate, CJ Govinden explained that “the post of Chief Magistrate was a post that was missing within the Judiciary. As CJ, Supreme Court and Magistrate’s Court fall under me and due to high amount of work, the Chief Magistrate who is based physically at the Magistrate’s Court is able to have a proper overview of the activities and also allocates cases and report to CJ. We can already see a change in the movement of cases.”
However he added that staff was never enough. “We definitely need more people in legal research and we need more trained in each section. We have staff with 10 to 15 years of service and we discussed with the President on the need to train them in legal matters.”
CJ also pointed out that Judges feel that their protocol status is not being appreciated by the government. “In 2021, they have been placed in a position lower than before and we asked for a rationale about this decision. The Judiciary seeks to restore its previous status through constructive dialogue with various stakeholders.”
CJ Govinden described the meeting as frank and fruitful and an opportunity for the whole of the Judiciary to put forward their position and agree on concrete decisions on the way forward.
VidyaGappy/Press release from State House
Photos: Louis Toussaint and State House