Monday, August 4, 2014

Seychelles National Human Rights Commission chairperson puts on unconvincing show

Following the swearing in of the new National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the chairperson, Miss Dora Zatte attempted to do some damage control to the battered and tattered image of the commission she heads. With a clear intent to avoid teething questions, only a select few journalists from the state media were present. Only one asked questions while all others played the role of passive onlookers.

It was clear from the outset that the chairperson of the NHRC was as dormant as the organization she heads citing resource constraints, mainly manpower, as the root of all the inactivity that has plagued the commission. The budget for this year does not show any increase in the budget allocation; a sad reflection on the low importance government attaches to the issue of human rights.

In a surprising move, the lady chairperson went on to heap praise on the government for an excellent human rights record and did not fail to rebuff the US government regarding its recent country report. She calls it US perception; the wrong approach to tackling human rights issues. As she stated herself, the NHRC is like a hospital without patients. She was on the verge of declaring that we do not need a human rights commission in Seychelles.

Contrary to what is known, the lady at the top wants the public to believe that the commission does not receive any complaints which is utter nonsense. She even went as far as contradicting herself by stating that she has the support of the public as the commission has helped many of them; what a contradiction!!!

While the commission has the power to get involved without a formal complaint being lodged, the case of the young man who made headlines after being mauled by police officers has failed to attract the attention of the commission. Maybe madam chair is of the opinion that the right of the victim has not been violated. As Ombudsperson, she has kept quiet over the whole incident. Where do citizens go to seek redress under those circumstances?

It is not to be forgotten that the four individuals who were arrested and detained in October last year are still awaiting the findings of the NHRC. Their grievances were forwarded to the commission that same month and reply from the commission has not been received as yet. Is the NHRC working for government or the victims?