How to register a case with the Family Tribunal
Interested parties must come to the Magistrates Court and a Registration Officer will speak with you to determine if you have a case. If there is sufficient information for a case, it is registered and the Secretary of the case will contact the other party.
The Secretary of the Tribunal may attempt settlement/mediation in cases of custody, access and maintenance, before the matter is brought before the Tribunal. In such instances where an out of court settlement is agreed upon, the said agreement will be placed before the Board for endorsement.
Can Family Violence cases be brought forward
In matters brought under the Family Violence (Protection of Victims Act) 2000 the Secretary has no power to attempt settlement in any way. Such matters have to be put before the Board.
Applications placed before the Board which are disputed will generally be referred to either Social Services or Probation Services for a report. On receipt of the report the Tribunal will more often than not follow the recommendation of the social services or probation officer, unless there are substantial reasons on which one party is objecting to the content of the report or the recommendation.
Family Violence means “conduct, whether actual or threatened, by a person towards, or towards the property of, a member of the person’s family that causes that or another member of the person’s family to fear for or be apprehensive about, the person’s safety or well-being of that or the other member of the person’s family”.
So the Tribunal can hear cases where there is actual conduct or threatened conduct by a person towards another member of the person’s family or towards the property of that other member of the person’s family.
The conduct must be of such nature that it causes that person or another member of the person’s family to fear for or be apprehensive (worried, concerned) about the person’s safety or well-being or that of another member of the person’s family.
Conduct suggests that there has to be a certain kind of behavior, to be ascertained over a period of time.
What kind of behavior is classified as family violence
Physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence. It involves the use of force against the victim, causing injury (e.g. a punch or a kick, stabbing, shooting, choking, slapping, forcing you to use drugs, etc.). The injury doesn’t need to be a major one. Being slapped a few times, causing only minor injuries that don’t require a visit to the hospital is domestic violence.
Emotional abuse involves the destruction of the victim’s self-worth, and is brought about by persistent insult, humiliation, or criticism. Emotional abuse can be a difficult type of domestic violence for many people to understand, since, on the surface, it appears to be quite common in unhealthy relationships. Emotional abuse is not enough on its own to bring a domestic violence action unless the abuse is so persistent and so significant that the relationship can be labeled extremely coercive. Most commonly, evidence of emotional abuse is combined with other abuse (physical, financial, sexual, or psychological) to bring a domestic violence action.
Sexual abuse is a common form of domestic violence. It includes not only sexual assault and rape, but also harassment, such as unwelcome touching and other demeaning behaviors. Sexual abuse is broadly interpreted. For example, if someone is coerced into not using contraception (the pill, a condom, an IUD, etc.) or having an abortion, then you may have actually been sexually abused.
Of the types of domestic violence, financial abuse is perhaps the least obvious. Financial abuse may take on many forms, such as a husband preventing his wife from obtaining an education or a job outside the home. Financial abuse is extremely common, particularly when families have pooled their money into joint accounts (with one partner controlling) and where there’s little or no family support system to help. Financial abuse is simply another form of control, even though it is usually less obvious than physical or sexual abuse. Often, the victim is completely dependent on his or her partner for money. With no access to money except through the abusive partner, the victim is completely at the abusive partner’s mercy. The abusive partner may withhold money for food, clothing, and more.
Psychological abuse is basically a catchall term for intimidating, threatening, or fear-causing behavior. This behavior must be persistent and significant. A one-time event generally won’t be enough to bring a domestic violence action. A wide variety of behaviors fall under the umbrella of psychological abuse. Some common examples include: preventing the victim from talking to people unless they have been given ‘permission,’ preventing the victim from leaving the house, threatening the victim with violence or emotional blackmail for doing something the abusive partner doesn’t agree with, etc. Like emotional abuse, psychological abuse may not, on its own, be enough to bring a domestic violence action unless it’s especially severe.
What is considered as ‘misconduct’ before the Tribunal
Misconduct before the Tribunal (section 78A (7)) which includes amongst others failure to attend the Tribunal, disrupting or interrupting the proceedings of the Tribunal is punishable in the same manner as before other Courts.
With regards to maintenance (section 6 of the Act) a person who fails to comply with a maintenance order is liable to 3 years and a fine of SR 20, 000/-, the same as for any other offence. As for a person who contravenes an interim protection order or a protection order the punishment is more severe, the person being liable to SR 30, 000 fine and/or imprisonment.
What to do if I am not satisfied with the judgment/orders of the Tribunal
A person aggrieved by the decision of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision, subject to the same conditions as appeals from the Magistrates Court (section 78B (1) of the Act).
In 2016 section 78B was repealed and the new section 78B (2) provided for appeals to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court on questions of law and fact or of law.
The Family Tribunal provides an efficient and caring service that brings quick relief to the parties in dysfunctional families by having an integrated and coordinating strategy for the resolution of disputes within those families.
The Family Tribunal hears and determines matters relating to access to children, custody of children, care of minor children, maintenance for both children and parents, paternity, family violence (following the enactment of the Family Violence (Protection of Victims) Act) and non-removal of children from the Seychelles.
Applications can be registered by any individual once the Registration Officer is satisfied that the complainant has a genuine legitimate complaint. An applicant can register an application at the Family Tribunal Secretariat.
Documents to be provided when registering an application: children’s birth certificates, NIN for applicant and children, marriage certificate, and where pertinent, certificates from doctors and police in the case of family violence.
The appointment of the Tribunal members is made by the Minister and published in the official gazette. It is comprised of one Chairman, two vice-chairmen and 7 members.
The Family Tribunal of Seychelles was established in terms of section 77 of the Children Act in 1998.
For more information please visit the Department of Social Affairs website.