Sunday, May 17, 2015


Source: Regar 11-5-10 

Jail for offending Minister Morgan

Hypocrisy. April 2015

A poster calling him ‘Traitor’ sent a man to jail

Bernard Sullivan has been a staunch defender of the cause of La Misere residents. This earned him 25 hours in jail at police headquarters in Victoria last weekend. According to his lawyer, Antony Derjacques, it was illegal imprisonment since there was no valid basis for the detention. It has raised further questions of Minister Joel Morgan’s use of his authority as Home Affairs Minister.

Last week, Bernard displayed on the rear screen of his car a small poster with the photograph of Joel Morgan, with the caption ‘Traitor’. On Saturday, shortly after noon, police came to arrest him at his home at Beau Vallon, stating that the poster was criminal libel under section 184 of the Penal Code of Seychelles.

Sullivan says the poster was to say that Morgan had betrayed the victims of the water pollution disaster at La Misere, by siding with and protecting those who had been responsible. It was an opinion he was fully entitled to express.

Sullivan was arrested by a squad of police officers at his home and locked up for 25 hours, despite the intervention of lawyers who asked for his release. When he was released on Sunday afternoon, there was no bail required, no charge laid, no request for him to report back. It was as if the police had decided to sentence him to one day’s imprisonment and he had served the sentence. But what it showed was that the police had no serious cause to detain and no charges to bring.

To lawyer Antony Dejacques, who has taken on Sullivan’s case, it is a clear violation of freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution. He interprets the police actions to have been initiated by Morgan himself, which would show an inappropriate intervention of the Minister in police matters.

The issues raised, Derjacques says, are the same as in the case of Alain Ernesta, who was arrested under the same section of the Penal Code and had his CDs confiscated on the accusation that he had libelled the President in one of his songs. The Constitutional Court established that the singer’s rights had been violated and an award of R76,000 was made against the police.

Upon Sullivan’s instructions, Derjacques if filing a case before the Constitutional Court against, the Government, the Commissioner of Police and Minister Morgan.

The power of arrest and detention is vested in the Commissioner of Police who is an independent servant of the law and who should not be subject to ministerial interference. It is a mistake Morgan has committed already, when he stated publicly that he had asked for Interpol action in the incident in which Regar published a sketch plan of the proposed Ile Perseverance Coastguard base. Morgan is prone to over-react, as shown in the Regar case. It is time he learned where his ministerial authority ends.