Outcry after prohibited immigrant allowed entry to take part in Club Med opening event |23 April 2021
Immigration and Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority employees have expressed their concerns, frustration, anger and disappointment after a passenger attempting to enter the country illegally was declared a prohibited immigrant but the decision was revoked to allow the individual in the country.
An immigration employee expressed his views in a letter that was circulating on social media yesterday in which he stated that after they had followed all the procedures and immigration requirements, found a French national who arrived in the country via an Emirates flight on April 20, 2021 guilty of false declaration. The French national stated that he was on a four-week holiday but after vetting formalities and a luggage search it was established that he was not a genuine visitor but in fact he had come here for work-related purposes.
During the luggage search, several written documents and sets of uniform with the Club Med logo found were proof enough that he had lied and made false declaration to immigration about his entry into Seychelles.
But after all formalities had been completed to take him to the holding facility to await deportation, the principal secretary for immigration Alain Volcère informed them that a decision had been taken at the highest level to revoke the decision and issue the individual with a visitor’s permit up to April 24, 2021.
The employees are calling for an end to such decisions which they say make them look like fools as serious questions are being asked about their department and their willingness to fight illegal employment in the country.
Once Seychelles NATION received a copy of the letter we tried contacting PS Volcère for his reaction and to clarify the matter. But all our calls to his mobile remained unanswered late morning and afternoon. A call to Internal Affairs Minister Errol Fonseka after 3pm confirmed that PS Volcère had given an interview to TéléSesel on the matter and he would be ready to talk to us.
PS Volcère did contact Seychelles NATION at 3.59pm and confirmed that he would call back again at 4.20pm. He did not call back and our calls to him remained unanswered.
In the interview that he gave to TéléSesel, PS Volcère tried to clarify the situation, stating that with the Covid-19 situation Seychelles is putting a lot of efforts to encourage visitors to come back here so when he became aware of the matter he brought it to the attention of Minister Fonseka and after thorough discussion they concluded that there was a need for some flexibility based on the fact that the individual was going to take part in an opening event at the Club Med and therefore they did not want to spoil the occasion because of the matter that had arisen surrounding his entry into the country.
“It was decided that he be allowed to enter the country but under a very strict condition that he returns to his country soon after the event and a reprimand that such a situation is not repeated,” PS Volcère explained.
Asked whether such a decision taken at short notice at the highest level does not undermine the work and effort of immigration officers who are determined that the individual entered the country under false reasons and lied to immigration officers thus making him an illegal immigrant, affirming that he was here on a four-week holiday when in fact Club Med uniform and other related documents were found in his luggage, PS Volcère said this was not the case but has instead congratulated the immigration officers for their vigilance and to follow all set criteria in place.
Asked why the individual had to hide the reason of his visit here as the opening of the Club Med was long planned, why his visit was not stated in a transparent manner and why the government had to reverse the decision when in fact it was clear and obvious that the individual entered the country illegally and made false declaration to immigration officials, PS Volcère tried to explain, admitting that he was not aware of the exact circumstances surrounding the arrival of the individual but noted that they put in the interest of the country first when taking such decisions.
At a time when many Seychellois are losing their jobs and knowing that there are many qualified chefs in Seychelles who could have done the job, he was asked if this was a factor that was morally considered when the decision was taken, PS Volcère stressed that the issue of employment never came up in their consideration but rather it was his indispensable participation in the event that was considered..
Meanwhile, in a press communiqué dated April 22, 2021 and signed by its chief executive Patrick Calvet, Club Med Seychelles stated that it has taken note of some social media posts regarding the entry of one of its international employees in Seychelles on April 20, 2021.
The communiqué writes:
“Club Med Seychelles regrets this situation but would like to affirm that there has been a misunderstanding which has caused some unfortunate reactions.”
“After one month of operations, as is the case for the opening of all our resorts around the world, Club Med requires a short term expert quality control mission of its food and beverage offered and wanted to do this in conjunction with the inauguration of the resort. This employee already holds a permanent contract with Club Med France and is in no way coming to work for Club Med Seychelles.
“Club Med did not anticipate, given the nature of the employee’s mission here, that it required any authorisation for the entry of the person. When the employee was denied entry, Club Med made representations with the authorities for permission to allow him to enter to carry out the mission, which was crucial to the resort’s opening. Permission was granted on the strict condition that the person should leave on April 24, which Club Med Seychelles will abide by. Club Med did not seek any favours and did not attempt to circumvent the law.
“Club Med Seychelles has never and will never indulge in any illegal practice whatsoever.”