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Policing coronavirus: Police officers get guidance from Attorney General |08 April 2020

Policing coronavirus: Police officers get guidance from Attorney General

AG Ally, accompanied by Mr Esparon, during the meeting with police officers yesterday (Photo: Jude Morel)

It is the first time that the Seychelles Police Force finds itself enforcing law and order during a public health emergency and also the first time it is faced with abrupt regulation changes from one day to another.

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on – with the potential to get worse in Seychelles – police officers were yesterday apprised of the new regulations being put in place as well as their roles and responsibilities under the revised Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Act.

A group of police officers coming from various regional stations, sections and units in the police force met with Attorney General Frank Ally and his deputy David Esparon in the ICCS auditorium to better understand the prohibition orders being implemented.

It was also an opportunity for the police officers to voice out their concerns and challenges, and request for further clarifications.

Starting off the meeting, Mr Ally noted that the police force plays an important and vital role to make sure that members of the public do not flout the rules put in place for their own protection.

With the aim of ensuring that the police officers remain on top of their game at all times, Mr Ally alerted the police officers that additional stricter measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19 will most likely be announced in the next 24 to 48 hours, adding that further measures might also be implemented in the coming weeks.

In relation to how and when to detain persons who breach regulations such as assembling in groups of more than four persons, Mr Ally advised the police officers to exercise caution and first ask the group to disperse. It only becomes an offence when a group refuses to disband.

“In the current state that we are in, it is imperative for people to respect the regulations and by doing this you are protecting the police officers and everyone else,” he stated.

“We are in a public health emergency, not a state of emergency. Our health is at stake and we must all comply with all the regulations and if we refuse to, the police may use all the means at its disposal to enforce law and order.”

“Police officers will have to use the necessary force to deal with a situation but we further explained to them that we do not want cases of police brutality,” Mr Ally added.

Assistant Superintendent Antoine Desnousse, head of traffic, stated that the interaction with the attorney general will be helpful to police officers since they are dealing with an unprecedented crisis.

“We are working with laws that we do not habitually deal with but we must take up these new regulations as our bible. The guidance we have received from the attorney general will facilitate our tasks.”

ASP Desnousse noted that the new regulations that are added or amended every so often due to the pandemic are a challenge for the police force since they continuously have to remain aware of these changes.

“This situation is dynamic and we must be ready at all times – nothing is a fait accompli. Nonetheless all of the principles and procedures remain the same.”

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