Monday, June 13, 2016


Amnesty International was concerned about the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience. No new "disappearance" cases were reported to Amnesty International during 1985 but the organization remained concerned about the government's failure to investigate allegations that at least seven people had either "disappeared" or been executed extrajudicially between 1977 and 1984. A prominent political opponent of the government was assassinated abroad. The government denied responsibility for the killing but there were allegations of official involvement.

Amnesty International adopted as a prisoner of conscience Jean Dingwall, a businessman detained without trial since September 1984 Under the Preservation of Public Security (Detention) Regulations Which allow indefinite detention without trial with no right to challenge the order in court. Jean Dingwall was apparently detained On suspicion of organizing political opposition, including a nonviolent demonstration which took place on 30 September 1984. He had previously been detained without trial in 1979 and between 1981 and 1983. It was the first time that he had been adopted by Amnesty International, although his detention had been investigated by Amnesty International once before.

Nine other prisoners of conscience were among a group of some 20 people detained in May and June for possessing or distributing literature criticizing the government. All but nine of those detained were soon released but three, two of whom were brothers, Joachim and Robin Sullivan, were still held untried at the end of 1985. Two other people were sentenced to a year's imprisonment in November but were released in December after remission for good conduct. Another four people were sentenced to suspended terms of imprisonment by the Supreme Court at a separate hearing in November but were not released until the next month. They included Andre Barallon, a stevedore, and Bernard Racombo, a former police Officer.

In another case, Amnesty International adopted as a prisoner of Conscience a known opponent of the government who was sentenced to imprisonment on criminal charges which appeared to have been fabricated for political reasons. Royce Dias was arrested in December 1984 and charged with possessing cannabis. He was tried by the Seychelles Supreme Court and convicted on 27 June. He was sentenced to seven and a half years' imprisonment, reduced on appeal in October to five years'. Before his arrest, Royce Dias had on several occasions been publicly named by President France-Albert Rene as an enemy of the government. He was also known to have expressed critical views about the government in press interviews. Royce Dias claimed in court that the cannabis had been placed in his car by an officer of the Police Mobile Unit, a paramilitary force whose duties do not normally include traffic control or criminal Investigation. The officer concerned denied this but Amnesty International noted that he was alleged to have harassed and intimidated political suspects on other occasions.

In July Amnesty International appealed for the government to establish an impartial inquiry into the fate of at least seven people reported to have been abducted by the security forces for political reasons between 1977 and 1984. In each of the seven cases Amnesty International had received detailed allegations about the abductions, including in some cases the names of the security officers said to have carried them out. The organization had also received allegations that police inquiries into the "disappearances" had been obstructed by the authorities. Moreover, the family of the person who had "disappeared" most recently - Alton Ah-Time, said to have been abducted and killed in September 1984 on account of his opposition to the government - was harassed. In May 1985 three of Alton Ah-Time's brothers - George, Wilhelm and Peter Ah-Time – were detained, assaulted and subsequently released by the security forces. Amnesty International drew these "disappearances" or extrajudicial executions to the attention of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the UN Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions. However, by the end of 1985 the authorities were not known to have established any inquiry or to have issued any response.

On 29 November Gerard Hoarau, President of the exiled Seychelles National Movement, was killed by an unknown assailant outside his house in London. The Seychelles' authorities issued a statement deploring his murder and dissociating themselves from it. However, Amnesty International noted that the authorities had claimed to have kept Gerard Hoarau under surveillance for at least three years, and that several sources, including Gerard Hoarau himself shortly before his death, had claimed that the government had conspired to kill him while he was abroad. Amnesty International subsequently received allegations that his eventual murder was carried out with the complicity of the Seychelles Government.