Friday, September 8, 2017


A letter from Alexia G. Amesbury

In view of recent events and disclosures as a result of the Finance Public Account Committee FPAC, Seychelles finds itself is a position of  possible transnational corruption which has in recent years been elevated to an international offence but in practical terms it is not considered serious enough in order for heads of state or cabinet members to be prosecuted in foreign jurisdictions. There is evidence to suggest that, in certain cases, corruption may take the form of a crime against humanity. This possibility extends significantly the jurisdictional ambit of national courts and empowers the International Criminal Court to consider a case. Moreover, the restorative component of such criminal prosecutions should aim at restoring, through civil mechanisms, the funds illegally appropriated to their rightful recipients, the defrauded local populations, under the principle of self-determination.

The question is, can the actions of a past President, fall into the category of Grand Corruption of kleptocrats, who have pillaged their respective countries and their people of countless billions of dollars?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines kleptocracy as "a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people.

Navanethem Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, says: "Corruption, whether in the public or private sectors, poses a critical threat to the enjoyment of human rights. It weakens institutions, erodes public trust in government and impairs the ability of states to fulfil their human rights obligations".

In the author’s view perpetrators should be tracked down and prosecuted, their assets sold and the proceeds used to alleviate poverty, which in Seychelles currently stands at 40%.

Combating corruption requires a strong, collective effort. Corruption is not a way of life, it is a violation of human rights. It is a crime against humanity and should be treated as such. Based on the revelations of the investigation by the FPAC it is becoming increasingly clear that legislation should be brought in, to create special courts and/or tribunals and if need be special prosecutors to tackle the level of corruption that Seychelles finds itself in, and that should be the first step towards alleviating poverty if the Government is serious about attaining  that goal.

 Another question that is widely discussed is that of immunity from prosecution of past presidents. The answer is to be found in Article 59 (2) of the Constitution, which I quote in full. “Not withstanding article 18(6) or article 19 (1) or (7) or any other law, proceedings such as are referred to in paragraph 1 (the granting of immunity from all criminal and civil claims of a sitting president) may be brought within three years of a person ceasing to hold or discharge the functions of the office of President unless the period prescribed by law for bringing the proceedings concerned had expired before the person assumed or commenced to discharge those functions.”

Alexia G. Amesbury