Monday, September 8, 2014

Seychelles Human Rights abuse; a five year old trauma

Wrongfully accused ; a five-year old trauma

He was arrested, detained for 14 days and prosecuted for robbing his own house. He was then found not guilty by the courts. But five years on, Praslinois Allan Ah-Thion says he still can’t get over the trauma.

Last Saturday, this newspaper published the story of Elvis Labonté, a Praslinois who recounted how he has been stigmatized because of his a wrongful arrest in a rape case. This story was read carefully by another Praslinois going by the names of Allan Ah-Thion. The man, touched by Mr Labonté’s story, contacted this newspaper to recount a similar story that happened to him.

Mr Ah- Thion says he too was wrongfully arrested five years ago at his residence in Anse Kerlan and was accused of robbing his own home. To date, five years later, the man says he has not been able to secure a job and that his reputation has been tarnished.

“On 25 November 2009, my wife fell sick and I took her to the hospital at around 11.30pm,” Mr. Ah-Thion told this newspaper, adding , “we were going to travel the next day and the money was with us so I took it out and placed it in the car.” Upon Mr. Ah-Thion and his wife’s return to their house in the early dawn of morning, they notice that their house and car had been broken into. “A very large sum of money was stolen including my wife’s business money,” he told TODAY.

He said he followed his instinct and went to the then Chief of Police who lived just 150m from his house. The Dog Unit and CID from Mahé were eventually contacted and mobilized but said that to his surprise he was then summoned to the Grand Anse police station. “They did not even inform my wife that they had summoned me but I gave a statement nonetheless,” said Mr. Ah-Thion “and for absolutely no reason, I was arrested and detained in a cell for 14 days.”

On the 15th day, Mr. Ah-Thion was sent to Mahé for the case was to be prosecuted on the grounds that he had “robbed his own property”. The court found him not to be guilty of any crime but the harm, he said, had already been done.

“My reputation was tarnished, I lost my job three days later and to this date I am still traumatized,” he told this newspaper, adding that he had to “go from Praslin to Mahé to attend court and they didn’t even bother getting me a ticket fare to go back home.”

Mr. Ah-Thion made several attempts to remedy his situation, writing to the State House, to the Commissioner of police, to the Chief Justice, to the Human Rights Commission but to no avail.

Five years have elapsed and he still has trouble sleeping and eating. The irony is that the actual thieves were caught the same year and were sentenced, found guilty and are currently still in jail. Mr. Ah-Thion claims that these thieves would never have been caught had identified them because he says, they had been suspects in similar cases before.

“I have on numerous occasions asked I was arrested but the police only wrote to me once to tell me that this was part of the procedure,” he said. Allan Ah- Thion further claims that the Human Rights Commission did not help him because “they are not sufficiently independent, being too closely affiliated to the government”.

“These Human Rights reports that the commission publishes internationally do not reflect the real situation in Seychelles,” he said, frustrated. “I want to challenge anyone who will listen, because I feel hopeless,” Mr. Ah-Thion told TODAY, adding that “the police force must be aware that it is lives of people that they are messing with.”

Meanwhile police spokesperson Jean Toussaint told this newspaper that he was not familiar with the case. “However, I can say that in such situations, the police may arrest an individual under reasonable grounds that he may have been involved in the incident,” he said, adding, “moreover, there are cases whereby people have defrauded themselves.” Mr. Toussaint further said that Mr. Ah-Thion should not despair because “he has not been found guilty thus he maintains a clean record.”

Indeed, prospective employers request for a “character certificate”, which according to Mr. Toussaint will not reflect Mr. Ah-Thion’s arrest. “There are numerous reasons for this incident,” further claimed Mr. Toussaint who also adds that Allan Ah-Thion “may have been set up for all we know, but the best thing would be for him to seek legal advice.”